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Breaking the Cycle of Trauma and Criminal Justice Involvement: The Mothers Overcoming and Managing Stress (MOMS) Study

NCJ Number
Date Published
34 pages
This study compared the effectiveness of two forms of counseling with services as usual for low-income young mothers of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds who had experienced sexual abuse as children and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance-use disorders as adults.

Findings support and extend prior studies that have found brief counseling, which enhances women's abilities to deal effectively with current challenges and relationships, can reduce PTSD symptoms to levels similar to those achieved with long-term therapies. Relatively few of the women dropped out of the Trauma Affect Regulation: Guide for Education and Therapy (TARGET), a counseling approach designed specifically to improve PTSD symptoms and stress management. Also, relatively few of the women dropped out of the other counseling model, called Present Centered Therapy (PCT), which was designed to enhance women's ability to solve current relationship problems constructively. PCT provided clear benefits in this area. Dropping out of therapy has been a problem with programs of prolonged counseling. Neither of the counseling methods used with the women required them to talk in detail about painful memories of past traumatic experiences, which is a counseling approach widely used for PTSD. The findings suggests that brief, problem-oriented counseling can assist in the development of skills for managing current stress and emotions and solving problems in relationships. Further research is needed in order to determine whether these counseling methods can be beneficial in helping female trauma survivors earlier in their lives as well as men and boys. A total of 147 women recruited from health clinics, family service centers, community centers, and residential treatment centers in Hartford, CT were randomized to usual treatment (n=45), TARGET (n=49), or PCT (n=53). They were assessed for functioning at baseline and at two followup points (3 and 6 months). 2 tables, 2 figures, and 66 references

Date Published: January 1, 2008