Psychological Treatments for Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults: A Meta-Analysis

  • Jana GutermannEmail author
  • Franziska Schreiber
  • Simone Matulis
  • Laura Schwartzkopff
  • Julia Deppe
  • Regina Steil


Meta-analyses of the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in childhood and adolescence are restricted to specific trauma, selected interventions, and methodologically rigorous studies. This large meta-analysis quantifies the effects of psychological treatments for PTSD symptoms in children and adolescents. An extensive literature search yielded a total of 13,040 articles; 135 studies with 150 treatment conditions (N = 9562 participants) met the inclusion criteria (psychological interventions with children and/or adolescents with PTSD symptoms that report quantitative measures of symptom change). The mean effect sizes (ESs) for PTSD symptoms ranged from large to small, depending on the control condition. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) yielded the highest ESs. Age and caretaker involvement were identified as moderators. CBT, especially when conducted in individual treatment with the inclusion of parents, is a highly effective treatment for trauma symptoms. Psychological treatments need to be modified to address younger patients’ specific needs.


Posttraumatic stress disorder Children Adolescents Psychological treatment Meta-analysis Childhood 



Funding for this work was partly provided (Jana Gutermann, Julia Deppe, and Laura Schwartkopff) by Grant 01KR1204C from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Simone Matulis and Regina Steil received honoraria for supervision, workshops, and presentations on different treatments, including developmentally adapted cognitive processing therapy (D-CPT). The authors would like to thank Marie Landenberger for her help with data collection.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All other authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

10567_2016_202_MOESM1_ESM.docx (36 kb)
Supplementary material 1. Detailed information on quantitative data synthesis (DOCX 37 kb)
10567_2016_202_MOESM2_ESM.docx (25 kb)
Supplementary material 2. Description of conditions with ES sidentified as outliers (DOCX 25 kb)
10567_2016_202_MOESM3_ESM.docx (40 kb)
Supplementary material 3. References of studies included in the Meta-Analysis (DOCX 41 kb)
10567_2016_202_MOESM4_ESM.docx (124 kb)
Supplementary material 4. Table 3: Characteristics of included studies (DOCX 125 kb)
10567_2016_202_MOESM5_ESM.docx (93 kb)
Supplementary material 5. Table 4: Effect size analysis of studies/treatment conditions examining the efficacy of psychological treatment on PTSD, depressive, and anxiety symptoms in PTSD patients (DOCX 93 kb)
10567_2016_202_MOESM6_ESM.docx (143 kb)
Supplementary material 6. Funnel plots (DOCX 144 kb)
10567_2016_202_MOESM7_ESM.docx (22 kb)
Supplementary material 7. Quality scores (DOCX 23 kb)
10567_2016_202_MOESM8_ESM.doc (67 kb)
Supplementary material 8. Prisma Checklist (DOC 67 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jana Gutermann
    • 1
    Email author
  • Franziska Schreiber
    • 1
  • Simone Matulis
    • 1
  • Laura Schwartzkopff
    • 1
  • Julia Deppe
    • 1
  • Regina Steil
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Psychology and PsychotherapyGoethe UniversityFrankfurt am MainGermany

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