Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)


Physician Assistant Studies


ACE; adverse childhood experience; cognitive behavior therapy; CBT; cognitive processing therapy; CPT; eye movement desensitization and reprocessing; EMDR; PTSD; post-traumatic stress disorder


American and European studies suggest that anywhere from 14 to 67% of children have experienced at least one traumatic event throughout their life. Furthermore, about 13.4% of them go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or symptoms (Diehle, J., Opmeer, B.C., Boer, F., Mannarino, A.P., & Lindauer, R.J., 2015). One study suggests that as many as 63.9% of adults suffer from ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) (CDC, 2016). The 4th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) states that PTSD is the most common Axis I disorder in children that are victims of abuse with statistics ranging from 20% (PTSD only) to 53% (PTSD or complex PTSD)(Chard, 2005). First line treatment for PTSD includes psychotherapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been established as the “gold standard” for the treatment of PTSD. However, a good percentage of children still present with symptoms post treatment. Therefore, a need for other forms of psychotherapy has been made apparent. This paper attempts to highlight the various detrimental effects of childhood trauma, explore the various types of psychotherapies used to treat PTSD in children as well as adults {CBT, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Prolonged Exposure}, and determine which therapy is most effective. The research gathered mostly supports the use of CPT in adults suffering from ACEs. However, in children, the most supported therapy for the treatment of PTSD is CBT, followed by prolonged exposure and EMDR.