Narrative Exposure Therapy as a treatment for child war survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder: two case reports and a pilot study in an African refugee settlement

Lamaro P Onyut, Frank Neuner, Elisabeth Schauer, Verena Ertl, Michael Odenwald, Maggie Schauer, Thomas Elbert
BMC Psychiatry 2005, 5: 7

BACKGROUND: Little data exists on the effectiveness of psychological interventions for children with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that has resulted from exposure to war or conflict-related violence, especially in non-industrialized countries. We created and evaluated the efficacy of KIDNET, a child-friendly version of Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET), as a short-term treatment for children.

METHODS: Six Somali children suffering from PTSD aged 12-17 years resident in a refugee settlement in Uganda were treated with four to six individual sessions of KIDNET by expert clinicians. Symptoms of PTSD and depression were assessed pre-treatment, post-treatment and at nine months follow-up using the CIDI Sections K and E.

RESULTS: Important symptom reduction was evident immediately after treatment and treatment outcomes were sustained at the 9-month follow-up. All patients completed therapy, reported functioning gains and could be helped to reconstruct their traumatic experiences into a narrative with the use of illustrative material.

CONCLUSIONS: NET may be safe and effective to treat children with war related PTSD in the setting of refugee settlements in developing countries.

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