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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2004 Oct;43(10):1225-33.

Treating childhood traumatic grief: a pilot study.

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  • 1Drexel University College of Medicine, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh 15212, USA.



To examine the potential efficacy and specific timing of treatment response of individual child and parent trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy for childhood traumatic grief (CTG), a condition in which trauma symptoms impinge on the child's ability to successfully address the normal tasks of grieving.


Twenty-two children and their primary caretakers received a manual-based 16-week treatment with sequential trauma- and grief-focused interventions.


Children experienced significant improvements in CTG, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depressive, anxiety, and behavioral problems, with PTSD symptoms improving only during the trauma-focused treatment components and CTG improving during both trauma- and grief-focused components. Participating parents also experienced significant improvement in PTSD and depressive symptoms.


The timing of improvements in CTG and PTSD symptoms lends support to providing sequential trauma- and grief-focused interventions and to the concept that CTG is related to but distinct from PTSD. The results also suggest the benefit of individual treatment for CTG and for including parents in the treatment of CTG. Randomized, controlled trials are needed to further test the efficacy of this treatment model.

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