This review discusses the efficacy of trauma-specific interventions among juvenile offenders.
The reviewers conducted a comprehensive search of trauma intervention studies completed in the United States in peer-reviewed journals, highlighting their methodological rigor by using the risk of bias tool for quantitative studies and Wu, Wyant, and Fraser’s guidelines for qualitative studies.
Sixteen studies met the inclusion criteria; fourteen studies used quantitative and two used qualitative research designs. Nine studies reported medium to large effects on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and five assessed externalizing behavioral problems. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy demonstrated the most rigor and had the largest reductions on PTSD symptoms followed by trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. Art therapy was the most rigorous qualitative study, but the intervention did not focus on reducing trauma symptoms.
Overall, most interventions were effective in reducing participants’ PTSD symptoms, but little is known about their effects on externalizing behavioral problems.