Mental health treatment of child abuse and neglect: the promise of evidence-based practice

Pediatr Clin North Am. 2009 Apr;56(2):417-28. doi: 10.1016/j.pcl.2009.02.002.


In 2006, 3.6 million children in the United States received a child protective services' investigation and 905,000 children (about one-quarter of those investigated) were found to have been abused or neglected. Children who have been maltreated are at risk for experiencing a host of mental health problems, including depression, posttraumatic stress, dissociation, reactive attachment, low self-esteem, social problems, suicidal behavior, aggression, conduct disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and problem behaviors, including delinquency, risky sexual behavior and substance use. Given the high rate of mental health problems, it is not surprising that maltreated youth are in need of mental health services. Unfortunately, only a fraction of these children and adolescents receive services. Recently, several evidence-based practices have been rigorously tested and are demonstrating efficacy in reducing mental health problems associated with maltreatment. This article details these developments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / prevention & control*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / therapy*
  • Child Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Community Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Community-Institutional Relations
  • Developmental Disabilities / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Practice / organization & administration*
  • Foster Home Care / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • United States / epidemiology