top of page

Cognitive Therapy for PTSD in children and young people

Richard Meiser-Stedman

13 Sept 2022


Trauma exposure is a very common experience in childhood and adolescence. Approximately 7% of children and young people experience develop PTSD at some point in their lives, with as many as 3-4% having PTSD at any given time. PTSD can be a chronic condition, lasting years or decades, and can have a major impact on broader mental and physical health.

While PTSD can be devastating condition, there is good reason for hope – the past twenty years has seen considerable evidence amassed that support the effectiveness of psychological therapies to treat PTSD in youth. In this workshop we will be looking at one form of talking therapy in particular, Cognitive Therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD). Heavily informed by Anke Ehlers and David M. Clark’s work with PTSD in adults, this approach has been carefully evaluated in children and adolescents, in both longitudinal studies and randomised controlled trials. CT-PTSD is based on addressing the key processes we know play in the onset and maintenance of PTSD: the way in which children’s trauma memories are stored in the brain, how they see themselves and others in light of what happened, and how they manage their PTSD symptoms. While working with PTSD can be an anxiety-provoking experience for clinicians, we be looking at the firm foundation that we can have for confident, evidence-based practice in this area.

The event will be equivalent to 5.1/2hrs of CPD.


This workshop will:
- Provide a theoretical basis for using CT-PTSD in children and young people.
- Outline the evidence for trauma-focused psychological therapies with youth with PTSD.
- Address the main elements of CT-PTSD: providing a clear rationale for the work; process trauma memories; identify and update trauma-related beliefs; and addressing maladaptive coping strategies.
- Explore clinicians’ concerns around working with multiple trauma, dissociation, and other complexities.
- Consider how to involve families in CT-PTSD, and some of the common issues that arise when working with families.

Learning Objectives

- How PTSD presents in children and young people
- What psychological and social factors that maintain PTSD in children and young people
- The evidence for trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapies
- How to formulate PTSD, and build a cognitive formulation with a child
- How to work with trauma memories
- Updating trauma-related misappraisals
- Working with PTSD following multiple trauma exposure
- Engaging families

Training Modalities

Didactic content, case studies, video, polls, Q&A.

Key References

Smith, P., Perrin, S., Yule, W., & Clark, D.M. (2009). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Cognitive Therapy for Children and Young People Hove: Routledge.
Smith, P., Dalgleish, T., & Meiser-Stedman, R. (2019). Practitioner Review: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and its Treatment in Children and Adolescents. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 60, 500-515.
Meiser-Stedman, R., Smith, P., McKinnon, A., Dixon, C., Trickey, D., Ehlers, A., Clark, D.M., Boyle, A., Watson, P., Goodyer, I. & Dalgleish, T. (2017). Cognitive Therapy as an early treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents: a randomized controlled trial addressing preliminary efficacy and mechanisms of action. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 58, 623-633.

About the presenter

Richard Meiser-Stedman is a Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of East Anglia. His primary research interest is PTSD in children and adolescents. He completed his PhD and trained as a clinical psychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, KCL. Between these periods of study he was a Peggy Pollak Fellow in Developmental Psychiatry, also at the Institute.
From 2009-2014 he was an MRC Clinician Scientist Fellow at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge. While there he led the ASPECTS study, looking at the early natural course of traumatic stress reactions, and an early treatment for PTSD in children and adolescents. From 2016 to 2020 he was an NIHR Career Development Fellow, through which he led the DECRYPT trial; this trial has been looking at cognitive therapy as a treatment for PTSD in NHS child and adolescent mental health services.
In 2008 he was awarded the Chaim and Bela Danieli Young Professional Award by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS). In 2018 he received the May Davidson Award from the BPS’s Division of Clinical Psychology, for his contribution to the development of clinical psychology within 10 years of qualification.

Who should attend

This workshop is suitable for child and youth mental health professionals. Some familiarity with cognitive behavioural therapy will be helpful.

Low Intensity clinical contact hours survey - BABCP Low Intensity Special Interest Group

Please click below if you are interested in contributing to the survey.


The BACP Low Intensity SIG are interested in the impact of clinical contact hours on Low Intensity/Wellbeing Practitioner wellbeing. This questionnaire contains six multi-choice questions and a free text box for you to share your experiences. The answers to these questions will help the BABCP SIG plan how to meet CPD topics and other developments within the SIG.  The SIG hope to produce a write up of the answers to this questionnaire to be shared with SIG members and to be used in training.

View Survey

This FREE conference is for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners working in Talking Therapies for Anxiety and Depression services and is brought to you by Bespoke Mental Health in collaboration with the NHS England Talking Therapies National PWP Leads Network

bottom of page