Psychological Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

Implementation of an Evidence-Based Psychotherapy for Trauma-Exposed Children in a Lower-Middle Income Country: the Use of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in El Salvador

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Central American youth are at a high risk for experiencing trauma and related psychosocial problems. Despite this, few studies of evidence-based trauma-focused interventions with this population exist. The objective of this project was twofold: 1) to train providers in El Salvador in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) as part of a clinical implementation project within a non-governmental organization, and 2) to conduct program evaluation to determine the feasibility of implementation and the effectiveness of the treatment. Fifteen Salvadoran psychologists were trained in TF-CBT who then provided TF-CBT to 121 children and adolescents ages 3-18 in community-based locations. The mean number of traumas reported by youth was 4.39. Results demonstrated large effect sizes for reduction in youth-reported trauma symptoms (Cohen's d = 2.04), depressive symptoms (Cohen's d = 1.68), and anxiety symptoms (Cohen's d = 1.67). Our program evaluation results suggest that it was feasible to train providers in TF-CBT, that providers were in turn able to deliver TF-CBT in community-based settings, and that TF-CBT was an effective treatment option to address trauma-related concerns for youth in El Salvador. This project is an important first step in the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based trauma-focused treatment for youth in Latin American countries.


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Journal of child & adolescent trauma