OBJECTIVE: The authors evaluated the effectiveness of brief
trauma/grief-focused psychotherapy among early adolescents exposed to the
1988 earthquake in Armenia. METHOD: Posttraumatic stress and depressive
reactions among treated and not treated subjects were evaluated pre- and
postintervention, at 1 1/2 and 3 years after the earthquake, respectively.
RESULTS: Severity of posttraumatic stress symptoms significantly decreased
among the subjects given psychotherapy, while severity of these symptoms
increased significantly among the subjects not treated with psychotherapy.
The improvement in posttraumatic stress symptoms was attributable to
improvement in all three symptom categories (intrusion, avoidance, and
arousal) of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There was no change in
severity of depressive symptoms among subjects given psychotherapy.
However, depressive symptoms among subjects not treated with psychotherapy
significantly worsened over time. The changes in severity of posttraumatic
stress and depressive symptoms were positively correlated within both
groups. CONCLUSIONS: The findings demonstrate the efficacy of
trauma/grief-focused brief psychotherapy in alleviating PTSD symptoms and
preventing the worsening of comorbid depression among early adolescents
after a catastrophic disaster. The results support the broad use of such
school-based interventions after major disasters and demonstrate the
cross-cultural applicability of Western psychotherapeutic approaches.