A relational perspective on PTSD in early childhood

Authors

  • Michael S. Scheeringa,

    Corresponding author
    1. Tulane University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New Orleans, Louisiana
    • 1440 Canal Street, TB52, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112
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  • Charles H. Zeanah

    1. Tulane University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New Orleans, Louisiana
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  • This paper is based on a presentation given at the 44th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, October 1997.

Abstract

This paper describes the clinical and research evidence for the importance of the relational context of posttraumatic stress disorder in young children. We review 17 studies that simultaneously assessed parental and child functioning following trauma. In many studies, despite limitations, an association between undesirable parental/family variables and maladaptive child outcomes has been consistently found. We present a model of the parental/family variables as moderators and vicarious traumatic agents for symptoms in young children. Also, a Compound Model is proposed, with three distinctive patterns of the parent—child relationship that impact on posttraumatic symptomatology in young children. Implications for clinical practice and research directions are discussed.

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