Psychopathology in children exposed to trauma: detection and intervention needed to reduce downstream burden


Andrea Danese, Katie A McLaughlin, Muthanna Samara & Carla S Stover

The clinical implementation of assessment and evidence based interventions is lagging behind research, with huge cost to individuals and society, write Andrea Danese and colleagues. To provide the best possible care to some of the most vulnerable children, specialist training, clinical capacity, and access to care must be increased

Childhood traumas—defined as events that involve “actual or threatened death, serious injury or accident, or sexual violence”—are key modifiable risk factors for psychopathology in children, adolescents, and adults. As such, child trauma is a major focus for research and clinical practice in mental health. Although much is known about the association of child trauma with psychopathology, and about evidence based interventions for trauma related psychopathology, the clinical implementation of adequate assessment and treatment in this area has been hampered by substantial obstacles in service delivery. For example, although some children are resilient in the face of trauma, many trauma-exposed children develop complex psychopathology that challenges diagnostic boundaries and simple case formulation. To identify and address the needs of this vulnerable group, we need to boost specialist training and clinical capacity in child trauma and its consequences.

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(Published 19 November 2020)

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