Treating and Preventing Psychological Trauma of Children and Adolescents in Post-Conflict Settings
2017, Crombach, Anselm, Wilker, Sarah, Hermenau, Katharin, Wieling, Elizabeth, Hecker, Tobias
Several factors endanger the psychological well-being of children and adolescents growing up in post-conflict settings. The risk of experiencing traumatic events at early stages of their development renders them more vulnerable for developing mental disorders. Furthermore, they have to deal with ongoing socioeconomic insecurity, loss of close relatives, disrupted family systems, and the disruptive consequences of their caregivers’ mental health status on child-rearing practices. In this chapter we identify the particular risk factors for children and adolescents growing up in post-conflict settings. We highlight the need for and provide an overview of existing and developing evidence-based interventions aimed at preventing and treating trauma-related disorders in children and adolescents in these potentially insecure and volatile environments. Specifically, we present the research-based interventions Parent Management Training Oregon model adapted to family systems in post-conflict settings and Interaction Competences with Children for Caregivers in institutional facilities, both aimed at promoting caring and violence-free child-rearing practices. The initial results of both interventions indicate their feasibility of implementation, including first hints of effectiveness, cultural acceptance, and adaptability to specific post-conflict settings. Finally, we introduce Narrative Exposure Therapy for Forensic Offender Rehabilitation as a promising treatment approach to reduce trauma-related symptoms and the risk of aggressive behavior in street children and child soldiers. Throughout the chapter we highlight the feasibility of scientifically evaluating interventions in post-conflict settings and emphasize the need for evidence-based prevention and treatment approaches.