University of Kentucky, United States
Addressing Special Challenges in Treating Child Traumatic Stress: Improving Child, Family and Provider Outcomes

Ginny Sprang, Ph.D., is a Professor in the College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Kentucky, and the Executive Director of the UK Center on Trauma and Children, a center whose mission is dedicated to the enhancement of the health and well-being of children and youth through research, service, and dissemination of information about traumatic stress. Dr. Sprang is the Principal Investigator of multiple federal and state grants that examine treatment effectiveness, and best practices protocols for a wide range of survivors.  Dr. Sprang serves as the chair of an International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Special Interest Group, has served on the Steering Committee for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and is the co-chair of the Secondary Traumatic Stress Committee for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Dr. Sprang has published extensively in the area of child traumatic stress, commercial sexual exploitation of minors, victimization, and secondary traumatic stress.

Trauma exposure during childhood and adolescence has been linked to a myriad of short-term and long-term physical and mental health problems, including a range of traumatic stress conditions (Anda et al., 2006; Navalta, 2011; Teicher et al., 2003). Despite a toolbox of efficacious treatments for children, adolescents and their caregivers (Silverman et al., 2008), there are ongoing barriers to implementing and sustaining these practices in many settings and with certain population subgroups.  This symposium takes up the challenge of addressing some of the barriers to efficacious treatment by presenting research on methods to enhance the involvement of caregivers who may be avoidant or overwhelmed by participating in trauma treatment using a stepped-model of care, reduce symptoms in children in the foster care system who may have unstable or uncertain placements, and the reliability and feasibility of collecting data from children and caregivers in domestic violence situations.  The symposium concludes with the recognition that providers of trauma treatment are also at risk of harm, and may be unable to sustain their practice due to the effects of indirect trauma exposure during their psychotherapy work.  The final presenter will describe a testable model for enhancing provider satisfaction and reducing trauma in those who may be at risk for secondary traumatic stress. This symposium will provide attendees with lessons learned from the presenter’s research and intervention development that can be used to address many of these common barriers to efficacious treatment.