Youth Services Law

Scientifically-Effective Treatment for Trauma

One of the most controversial questions I encounter in litigation involving children is predicting the costs of future mental health treatment.  Everyone agrees that children who have suffered a trauma need therapy, but few people agree on what sort of therapy or how much.  The American Journal of Preventive Medicine recently published a study concluding that only cognitive behavior therapy (individual and group) has been proven to be effective.  (Hat tip: Anxiety Insights blog). 

Defense attorneys will like this study for the same reason that plaintiff's attorneys will be skeptical - cognitive behavior therapy  requires only 8-12 sessions.  It may need to be repeated periodically at developmental milestones, such as puberty, but it does not require long-term, ongoing therapy sessions.

Other therapies that I often see recommended, such as intensive psychoanalysis or psychotropic medication, are simply not yet proven.  I have yet to see a Daubert challenge to such recommendations, but more studies like this one certainly would support one.

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