Measuring the Impact of Trauma-Focused, Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy with Middle School Students

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Sumi, W. C., Woodbridge, M. W., Wei, X., Thornton, S. P., & Roundfield, K. D. (2021). Measuring the impact of trauma-focused, cognitive behavioral group therapy with middle school students. School Mental Health, 1–15. doi: 10.1007/s12310-021-09452-8


This study examines differential effects of the Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) program on behavioral and academic outcomes of middle school students. Researchers administered screenings to grade 6 students to assess traumatic stress and then randomized those with elevated levels to the CBITS treatment ( n = 150) or comparison group ( n = 143). Analyses examined the overall impact of CBITS and differential effects among subpopulations of students who reported clinically significant externalizing ( n = 73) or internalizing behavior ( n = 181) at baseline. Results demonstrated that relative to counterparts in the comparison group, externalizers in CBITS reported significantly reduced post-traumatic stress, anxiety, anger, internalizing and externalizing problems, and total behavior problems, and they also significantly improved scores on a standardized literacy assessment at posttest. Students with internalizing behavior problems showed differential academic effects at 1-year follow-up; those in CBITS did significantly better on standardized math tests but significantly worse on a reading subtest than their counterparts.

Keywords: Trauma, Middle school, Academic outcomes, Psychosocial outcomes, Internalizing behavior, Externalizing behavior.

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