Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 327-337

First online:

A Randomized Trial of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Cognitive Therapy for Children with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Following Single-Incident Trauma

  • Reginald David Vandervord NixonAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Flinders University Email author 
  • , Jisca SterkAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Flinders University
  • , Amanda PearceAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Flinders University

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The present study compared the efficacy of trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) with trauma-focused cognitive therapy (without exposure; CT) for children and youth with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Children and youth who had experienced single-incident trauma (N = 33; 7–17 years old) were randomly assigned to receive 9 weeks of either CBT or CT which was administered individually to children and their parents. Intent-to-treat analyses demonstrated that both interventions significantly reduced severity of PTSD, depression, and general anxiety. At posttreatment 65% of CBT and 56% of the CT group no longer met criteria for PTSD. Treatment completers showed a better response (CBT: 91%; CT: 90%), and gains were maintained at 6-month follow-up. Maternal depressive symptoms and unhelpful trauma beliefs moderated children’s outcome. It is concluded that PTSD secondary to single-incident trauma can be successfully treated with trauma-focused cognitive behavioural methods and the use of exposure is not a prerequisite for good outcome.


Posttraumatic stress disorder Cognitive behavior therapy Children and young people Single incident trauma