Trauma-related dissociative (conversion) disorders in children and adolescents. An overview of assessment tools and treatment principles
A high proportion of patients in child and adolescent psychiatry with significant dissociative symptomatology after early childhood traumatization may go undiagnosed, be wrongly diagnosed and/or inappropriately treated. The diagnostics and treatment of dissociative disorders have been limited by lack of comprehensive, reliable and valid instruments and the ongoing polarization and fierce controversy regarding treatment. However, recent neurobiological findings of neurochemical, functional and structural cerebral consequences of early stressful childhood experiences point out a need for active, early and effective identification and treatment interventions. We present an update on assessment tools available in the Nordic countries, and an overview of different appropriate therapeutic intervention models for children and adolescents. A systematic overview of studies of dissociation in children and adolescent published over the last decade disclosed a total of 1019 references. The 465 papers describing aspects of assessment tools and/or treatment were studied in detail. Reliable and valid screening questionnaires and diagnostic interviews for children and adolescents now allow for effective early identification of dissociative disorders. A combination of individual psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy and family therapy are often required to handle dissociative disorders in children and adolescents. Cognitive/behavioural therapy, hypnotherapy, Eye-Movement Desensitization-Reprocessing (EMDR), psychodynamic therapy and an integrated approach are the main described psychotherapeutic approaches, but treatment of dissociation in children and adolescent does not require allegiance to any one particular treatment model. However, achievement of physical safety by providing a safe environment is a primary goal that supersedes any other therapeutic work. Assessments tools are now available, and appropriate therapeutic intervention models may hopefully contribute to reduce the risk of wrong diagnoses and inappropriate treatment of dissociative symptomatology in children and adolescents. However, controlled clinical trials of the various interventions and longitudinal outcome studies are needed.
Original Work Citation
Diseth, T. H., & Christie, H. H. (2005). Trauma-related dissociative (conversion) disorders in children and adolescents. An overview of assessment tools and treatment principles. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 59(4), 278-292. doi:10.1080/08039480500213683
“Trauma-related dissociative (conversion) disorders in children and adolescents. An overview of assessment tools and treatment principles,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed January 15, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/26207.