Role of Healthcare Professionals in Treating Pediatric Traumatic Stress

Children and families experiencing pediatric traumatic stress may be seen at any point along the healthcare continuum so it's important to be able to recognize and treat the symptoms of traumatic stress. The Center for Pediatric Traumatic Stress (CPTS) advocates a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach with interventions in medical settings. Interventions should:

  • Minimize the potential for trauma any time the patient receives care
  • Maximize the identification of children and families at risk

Trauma-informed healthcare

CPTS believes that all medical and mental health providers working with children and families in medical settings should be "trauma-informed." The D-E-F protocol provides a straightforward and reliable method for identifying and addressing basic traumatic stress reactions in patients and their families.

D – Reduce distress

  • Assess and manage pain
  • Ask about fears and worries
  • Consider grief and loss

E – Promote emotional support

  • Ask: who and what does the patient need right now?
  • Identify barriers to mobilizing existing support.

F – Remember the family

  • Assess family members' distress
  • Gauge family stressors and resources
  • Address needs beyond the medical

Training and education

Our Center offers educational materials and training programs to medical and mental health professionals, children and families. Topics include pediatric traumatic stress and empirically-supported interventions that can prevent and treat traumatic stress responses.