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The sooner, the better? A review of posttraumatic stress disorder in preschool children

20 July 2012


A recent development in the field of trauma research and care has been the notion that very young children may develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This area of psychology is rapidly gaining clinical and empirical attention. In years past, the idea that infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children could be affected by a trauma was often dismissed. This dismissal was often attributed to beliefs that young children do not yet have the developmental capacity or the cognitive abilities to store and then recall traumatic events (Chu & Lieberman, 2010). The phenomenon of PTSD in very young children is a relatively new one; however, researchers to date have presented data to both support and argue against this theory. The purpose of this dissertation is twofold: a) to identify and summarize the extant literature to date regarding the manifestation of trauma in preschool children and b) to identify growing trends and existing gaps in the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of PTSD in preschoolers.


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