Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 345-363

First online:

Involving Parents in Indicated Early Intervention for Childhood PTSD Following Accidental Injury

  • Vanessa E. CobhamAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, University of Queensland Email author 
  • , Sonja MarchAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Southern Queensland
  • , Alexandra De YoungAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, University of Queensland
  • , Fiona LeesonAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Flinders University
  • , Reginald NixonAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Flinders University
  • , Brett McDermottAffiliated withMater Medical Research Institute, Mater Health Services
  • , Justin KenardyAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, University of Queensland

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Accidental injuries represent the most common type of traumatic event to which a youth is likely to be exposed. While the majority of youth who experience an accidental injury will recover spontaneously, a significant proportion will go on to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And yet, there is little published treatment outcome research in this area. This review focuses on two key issues within the child PTSD literature—namely the role of parents in treatment and the timing of intervention. The issue of parental involvement in the treatment of child PTSD is a question that is increasingly being recognized as important. In addition, the need to find a balance between providing early intervention to at risk youth while avoiding providing treatment to those youth who will recover spontaneously has yet to be addressed. This paper outlines the rationale for and the development of a trauma-focused CBT protocol with separate parent and child programs, for use with children and adolescents experiencing PTSD following an accidental injury. The protocol is embedded within an indicated intervention framework, allowing for the early identification of youth at risk within a medical setting. Two case studies are presented in order to illustrate key issues raised in the review, implementation of the interventions, and the challenges involved.


PTSD Accidental injury Children