• Child traumatic stress;
  • family engagement;
  • treatment dropout;
  • trauma systems therapy

Background:  This study aimed to obtain preliminary evidence for the extent to which a novel intervention embedded within a systems-oriented treatment model [trauma systems therapy (TST)] engages and retains traumatized children and their families in treatment.

Method:  Twenty youth who had prominent symptoms of posttraumatic stress were randomly assigned to receive TST or care as usual (CAU).

Results:  At the 3-month assessment, 90% of TST participants were still in treatment, whereas only 10% of CAU participants remained. Within-group analyses of TST participants demonstrated significant reductions in posttraumatic stress and aggression as well as a slight improvement in home safety.

Conclusions:  These preliminary findings point to the need to utilize effective engagement approaches to retain traumatized children and their families in treatment.