Toward evidence-based treatment: child-parent psychotherapy with preschoolers exposed to marital violence

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2005 Dec;44(12):1241-8. doi: 10.1097/01.chi.0000181047.59702.58.


Objective: Treatment outcome for preschool-age children exposed to marital violence was assessed, comparing the efficacy of Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) with case management plus treatment as usual in the community.

Method: Seventy-five multiethnic preschool mother dyads from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds were randomly assigned to (1) CPP or (2) case management plus community referral for individual treatment. CPP consisted of weekly parent-child sessions for 1 year monitored for integrity with the use of a treatment manual and intensive training and supervision. Parents completed the Child Behavior Checklist and participated in the Structured Clinical Interview for DC:0-3 to assess children's emotional and behavioral problems and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Mothers completed the Symptom Checklist-90 and the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale interview to assess their general psychiatric and PTSD symptoms.

Results: Repeated-measures analysis of variance demonstrated the efficacy of CPP with significant group x time interactions on children's total behavior problems, traumatic stress symptoms, and diagnostic status, and mothers' avoidance symptoms and trends toward significant group x time interactions on mothers' PTSD symptoms and general distress.

Conclusions: The findings provide evidence of the efficacy of CPP with this population and highlight the importance of a relationship focus in the treatment of traumatized preschoolers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case Management
  • Child Reactive Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Reactive Disorders / psychology
  • Child Reactive Disorders / therapy*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Community Mental Health Services
  • Domestic Violence / psychology*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Family Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome