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Extending the evidence base for prolonged exposure: significant effectiveness noted with sexual abuse-related PTSD in adolescent girls
  1. Shannon Dorsey,
  2. Julie Harrison
  1. Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Shannon Dorsey, dorsey2{at}

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What is already known on this topic?

Children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events, such as sexual abuse and rape, are at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Studies of trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the child PTSD treatment with the greatest empirical support, have typically only included adolescents up to age 14.1 Studies of prolonged exposure (PE) and cognitive processing therapy, the adult PTSD treatments with the most empirical support, with few exceptions (Foa et al),2 have focused almost exclusively on individuals over the age of 18.

What does this paper add?

  • The current study provides empirical support for PE with adolescents, aged 13–18.

  • Participants receiving PE from community providers (who were new to exposure based, manualised therapies and received little expert supervision) were significantly more likely not to meet criteria for PTSD, report lower levels of depression and show improvements in functioning compared to those who received supportive counselling.

  • Although both conditions maintained treatment gains at 1-year follow-up, gains maintained by participants in PE were superior …

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  • Competing interests None.

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