Comparing Behavioral Therapies for Treating Adolescents With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Related to Sexual Abuse

2014-07-23 21:30:29 | BioPortfolio


This study will evaluate the comparative effectiveness of prolonged exposure therapy and client centered therapy in treating adolescents with post-traumatic stress disorder related to childhood sexual abuse or assault.


Adolescents who have experienced childhood sexual abuse (CSA) frequently develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse problems, and re-victimization during their teenage years. PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder that often occurs following a traumatic event, such as violent personal assault, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. PTSD is characterized by persistent frightening thoughts and memories of the traumatic ordeal, emotional numbness, sleep problems, and anxiousness. Because of the high prevalence of CSA and the association between CSA, PTSD, and other serious mental disorders, it is essential that efficient, effective, and readily available treatments are developed for adolescents with PTSD brought on by sexual assault. This study will evaluate the comparative effectiveness of prolonged exposure therapy and supportive counseling in treating adolescents with PTSD that is related to childhood sexual abuse or assault.

Participants in this 1-year study will be randomly assigned to receive one of the following two treatments: prolonged exposure therapy for adolescents (PE-A) or client centered therapy (CCT). PE-A will involve three phases: psychoeducation and planning; exposure; and relapse prevention and graduation. PE-A and CCT participants will attend 14 sessions over 18 weeks, including up to 5 hours with their parents or guardians. During the first three sessions, participants will briefly discuss the CSA and learn breathing techniques. For PE-A participants, sessions 4 through 12 will focus on repeatedly confronting the trauma memory to allow participants to thoroughly process the trauma and reduce fear and anxiety. PE-A participants will also complete homework assignments designed to expose them to experiences that are safe but may remind them of past traumatic events or trigger anxiety. In CCT sessions, the therapist will help participants identify daily stresses and will discuss them in a supportive, non-directive way, with a focus on problem solving. Topics may include everyday life difficulties, directly or indirectly related to CSA, or discussion of the CSA itself. All participants will attend follow-up visits at Week 19 (immediately post-treatment) and 3, 6, and 12 months post-treatment.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Single Blind (Outcomes Assessor), Primary Purpose: Treatment


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Prolonged exposure (PE) therapy for adolescents, Client centered therapy (CCT)


Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety, University of Pennsylvania
United States




University of Pennsylvania

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-07-23T21:30:29-0400

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