Group CBT for Adolescents with Rape-Related Symptoms

BackCBT studyground: Efficacy studies on treatment in adolescent victims of single rape are lacking, even though sexual victimization is most likely to occur during adolescence and despite the fact that adolescents are at risk to develop subsequent posttraumatic stress disorder.

Aim: The aim of this prospective observational study was to evaluate the short- and long-term outcomes of a nine-session cognitive behavior group therapy (STEPS), including a parallel six-session parents’ group on rape-related symptomatology in female adolescents (13-18 years). STEPS includes psychoeducation, exposure in sensu as well as in vivo, cognitive restructuring, and relapse prevention.

Methods: Fifty-five female adolescents with mental health problems due to single rape, but without prior sexual trauma, received STEPS while their parents participated in a support group. Subjects were assessed on posttraumatic stress (PTS) and comorbid symptoms using self-report questionnaires prior to and directly after treatment, and at 6 and 12 months follow-up.

Results: Repeated measures analysis showed a significant and large decrease in symptoms of PTS, anxiety, depression, anger, dissociation, sexual concerns, and behavior problems directly after treatment, which maintained at 12 months follow-up. Time since trauma did not influence the results. Dropout during STEPS was 1.8%.

Conclusions: The results potentially suggest that the positive treatment outcomes at short- and long-term may be caused by STEPS. The encouraging findings need confirmation in future controlled studies on the effectiveness of STEPS because it may be possible that the treatment works especially well for more chronic symptoms, while the less chronic part of the sample showed considerable improvement on its own.

Bicanic, I., de Roos, C., van Wesel, F., Sinnema, G., & van, d. P. (2014). Rape-related symptoms in adolescents: Short- and long-term outcome after cognitive behavior group therapy. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 5.

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