Clinical Considerations for Conducting Child-Parent Psychotherapy with Young Children with Developmental Disabilities Who Have Experienced Trauma
Keywords:Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), developmental disabilities, disabilities, medical trauma, child trauma, maltreatment, posttraumatic stress, early intervention, relationship-based treatment, Part C, IDEA, Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA),
Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) is an evidence-based treatment for children age 0-5 who have experienced at least one traumatic event and/or are experiencing mental health, attachment, and/or behavioral problems. Harley, Williams, Zamora, & Lakatos (2014) use a case study approach to examine the utility of CPP for working with children with developmental disabilities. They share specific ways in which the model can be tailored for this population. In this commentary, we reflect on their work with James, a 14-month old Latino boy with global delays related to a stroke he suffered after surgery for a congenital heart defect, and Juan, a 6 year, 2 month old boy diagnosed as autistic who has also experienced multiple traumas. We highlight interventions that address core CPP goals and discuss the need to address four key topic areas when conducting CPP with children with disabilities: 1) the importance of addressing risks that present within the caregiver-child relationship, including caregivers’ unresolved grief; 2) the potential for the caregiver or child’s history of trauma to contribute to challenges in the child and caregiver’s functioning; 3) the importance of working as part of an interdisciplinary team to coordinate care and better address the complex needs of families; and 4) the importance of applying a socio-cultural lens in every aspect of the work.
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