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Girls In Recovery From Life Stress (GIRLS) Study (GIRLS)

This study has been completed.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
U.S. Department of Justice
Information provided by:
UConn Health Identifier:
First received: September 11, 2008
Last updated: September 24, 2010
Last verified: September 2010
This study will compare treatment outcomes of 90 adolescent girls who are (a) at high risk for delinquency and/or are juvenile justice involved, and (b) who are experiencing symptoms of PTSD: 45 of the girls will receive Trauma Affect Regulation: Guide for Education and Therapy (TARGET, Frisman, Ford, Lin, Mallon, & Chang, in press), and their outcomes will be compared to 45 girls who receive Enhanced Treatment as Usual (ETAU). As part of their involvement, participants will make phone calls to provide data via an interactive voice response system (IVR), meet 3 times for a research interview, and be invited to participate in a cognitive assessment substudy at the Olin Neuropsychiatric Research Center at Hartford Hospital.

Condition Intervention Phase
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder PTSD Behavioral: Trauma Adaptive Recovery Group Education and Therapy Behavioral: Enhanced Treatment As Usual Phase 2

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Girls In Recovery From Life Stress (GIRLS) Study

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by UConn Health:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Interview (CAPS-CA) assessing posttraumatic stress disorder and questionnaires (PTCI, IPSI, TMQ, TSCC) and clinician ratings (SOTS) assessing posttraumatic stress symptom severity. [ Time Frame: Post-treatment, 4-6 months post-treatment ]

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Questionnaires assessing problems with externalizing behaviors (Weinberger Adjustment Survey) and socioemotional strengths (Hope, NMR, Weinberger Adjustment Survey) [ Time Frame: Post-treatment and 4-6 months post-treatment ]

Enrollment: 70
Study Start Date: March 2006
Study Completion Date: August 2008
Primary Completion Date: August 2008 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Active Comparator: 1
12 weekly sessions of one-to-one TARGET (psychotherapy)
Behavioral: Trauma Adaptive Recovery Group Education and Therapy

Trauma Affect Regulation: Guidelines for Education and Therapy (TARGET; Ford & Russo, 2006) is a manualized gender-specific treatment for PTSD. The 12-session individual therapy version in the present study is being adapted for adolescent girls based on a parallel version for young mothers and a group version that has been field tested with more than 20 adolescent girls.

TARGET teaches a practical 7-step sequence of skills for processing and managing trauma-related reactions to current stressful experiences. The skills are designed in a sequence mirroring the three phases of complex traumatic stress disorder treatment (Ford, Courtois, Van der Hart, Nijenhuis & Steele, 2005), summarized by an acronym "FREEDOM". TARGET also uses creative arts activities: personalized "lifelines" via collage, drawing, poetry, and writing.

Active Comparator: 2
12 weekly sessions of one-to-one ETAU (psychotherapy)
Behavioral: Enhanced Treatment As Usual
Enhanced Treatment as Usual (ETAU) is a 12-session supportive therapy adapted from the Present Centered Therapy co-developed by the first author (McDonagh-Coyle, Friedman, McHugo, Ford, Mueser, & Sengupta, 2005). In ETAU therapists invite the participant to talk about goals or problems that are important to her. The therapist's focus is on providing the core conditions of client centered psychotherapy (nonjudgmental acceptance, empathy, interpersonal warmth) and engaging the participant in a strengths-based solution-focused reflection on how she is successful (or has been in the past) in managing stressors, handling problems, achieving personal goals, and developing healthy relationships with peers, family, and other community members.

Detailed Description:

Hypotheses, Objectives and Aims:

The purpose of the GIRLS study is to provide counseling to adolescent girls who are (a) at high risk for delinquency and/or are juvenile justice involved and (b) are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, in order to help them regulate their emotions, planning, decision-making, and actions/ interactions in ways that will reduce PTSD and enhance their safety, responsible civic involvement, learning, peer, family, and adult relationships, and physical and psychological well-being. The study will be the first randomized clinical trial of a therapeutic intervention for complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)with girls: 1) Trauma Affect Regulation: Guide for Education and Therapy (TARGET; Frisman, Ford, Lin, Mallon, & Chang, in press), compared to Enhanced Treatment as Usual (ETAU). Both interventions will provide 12 one-to-one manualized, educational and therapeutic sessions that teach coping skills and stress reduction techniques.

The aims of the study are:

Aim 1) To test if participation in TARGET results in clinically and statistically significant improvements in PTSD symptoms, psychosocial functioning, and emotion/impulse regulation.

Aim 2) To compare the differential affects of TARGET and ETAU on affect regulation, social support, stress-related information processing and cognitive coping, and the reduction of impulsive or aggressive thinking/behavior.

Aim 3) To identify changes in daily self-regulation after TARGET and ETAU.

An ethnically diverse sample of girls at high risk for delinquency and/or with current or past juvenile justice-involvement between 13 and 17 years of age will be recruited in clinic, community, detention, schools, and residential programs. After screening for eligibility and obtaining valid signed consent forms, participants will be randomly assigned to one of the two experimental conditions. Within each condition, trained clinicians will administer 12 sessions of individualized counseling using a manual for the intervention. Psychometric self-report and daily monitoring measures will be obtained at baseline, post-treatment, and 6-month follow-up assessments and multivariate statistical techniques will be used for analysis of treatment effects.


Ages Eligible for Study:   13 Years to 17 Years   (Child)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   Female
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Female
  • Age 13-17 years old
  • Past and/or current juvenile justice involvement AND/OR past and/or current delinquent behavior
  • Able to obtain assent from youth
  • Able to obtain consent from legal guardian
  • Willing to assent/consent to be audiotaped for research purposes in assessment and intervention sessions
  • Currently experiencing negative reactions to past traumas (PTSD symptoms)

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Imminently suicidal
  • Past 30 days inpatient psychiatric treatment
  • IF meetings take place at a school or group facility and the girl/participant is NOT willing to schedule appointments through the school or group facility staff
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00751946

United States, Connecticut
Polaris School
East Hartford, Connecticut, United States, 06108
University of Connecticut Health Center
Farmington, Connecticut, United States, 06030
Gray Lodge Shelter for Women
Hartford, Connecticut, United States, 06105
Weaver High School
Hartford, Connecticut, United States, 06112
Bellizzi Middle School
Hartford, Connecticut, United States, 06114
Quirk Middle School
Hartford, Connecticut, United States, 06120
UCONN Health Partners
West Hartford, Connecticut, United States, 06119
Sponsors and Collaborators
UConn Health
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
U.S. Department of Justice
Principal Investigator: Julian Ford, Ph.D. UConn Health
Study Director: Kathie H Moffitt, Ph.D. UConn Health
  More Information

Additional Information:
Responsible Party: Julian Ford, Ph.D., University of Connecticut Health Center Identifier: NCT00751946     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 06-035H-2
Study First Received: September 11, 2008
Last Updated: September 24, 2010

Keywords provided by UConn Health:
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
clinical trial

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Stress Disorders, Traumatic
Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic
Stress, Psychological
Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders
Mental Disorders
Behavioral Symptoms processed this record on June 23, 2017