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Article  May 10, 2021

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

SRI Authors W. Carl Sumi, Michelle W. Woodbridge, Xin Wei, Patrick Thornton

Citation

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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

Abstract

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.

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