Stepped care models provide treatments that are designed to minimise the use of therapist hours as well as costs, time and inconvenience to those participating in the therapy. Therapists provide treatment in steps according to the needs of the individual they are treating. Step 1 involves few therapist sessions, with clients working through material at home and accessing support as needed. Clients are monitored and assessed to determine if they then need more intensive treatment following Step 1, and if they do, they proceed to Step 2, involving an increase in one on one sessions with therapists.
This is a particularly useful model to consider in the treatment of young children who have experienced trauma. There is often limited access to therapists who are well trained in treating symptoms of trauma in young children, and the services that they typically present to - community and public health systems - are often limited in terms of providing cost intensive treatments. Step 1 of the stepped care model for treating trauma, also puts the parent in the role of providing some of the treatment, an element which has been strongly supported in therapy with younger children. A potential barrier to treatment for parents of young children seeking or completing treatment is the parents desire to solve the problem related to the child on their own. With both parents and children both actively involved in therapy it is likely that it will be more successful. Some of the components of the intervention that has been trialled include:
- 3 sessions with a therapist
- workbooks for both the parents and the child to work through at home that incorporates exposure tasks and relaxation exercises
- phone calls to therapist for support
- access to psychoeducation through online resources
This is a promising development in the area of treating children affected by trauma, with the potential to allow greater access to children earlier in life. For more information on the latest research and news coming out in this area, subscribe to the Australian Child & Adolescent Trauma, Loss & Grief Network and visit our Journals section.