Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Young People after L’Aquila Earthquake

Valeria Bianchini*, a, c, Rita Ronconea, b, c, Annarita Tomassinia, c, Stefano Necozionec, Maria Grazia Cifonec, Massimo Casacchia a, b, c, Rocco Pollicea, b, c
a Service for Monitoring and early Intervention against psychoLogical and mental suffering in young people” (SMILE), L’Aquila University, Italy
b Psychiatric Unit, San Salvatore Hospital, L’Aquila, Italy
c Department of Clinical Medicine, Public Health and Sciences of Life and Enviroment, University of L’Aquila, Italy

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© Bianchini et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Health Sciences, University of L’Aquila, Via Vetoio, 67100 Coppito, L’Aquila, Italy; Tel: +39 0862368248; Fax: +39 0862312104; E-mail:



Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) emerges as the best validated therapeutic approach for children and adolescents who experienced trauma-related symptoms, particularly associated with anxiety or mood disorders. The aim of this study was to evaluate the CBT efficacy among young people exposed to L’Aquila earthquake, in 2009.


one year after the disaster, 39 young subjects as a case group (CBT treated) and 24 as a comparison group (no CBT treated) were evaluated with the Impact of Event Scale Revised (IES-R), the General Health Questionnaire-12 items (GHQ-12) and the Brief Cope. CBT was conducted in 12 sessions (once per week for 3 months). After CBT intervention, both groups were evaluated again with the same psychometric instruments.


our results show a significantly decrease in post traumatic symptoms and psychological distress severity in CBT group. It was attributable to an improvement in each of three PTSD dimensions (intrusion, avoidance, and arousal) and in the total score of IES-R (p< 0.04). Among CBT treated group, subjects that adopted “planning/problem solving” coping strategies (p < .02) and “religiosity” (p < .045) show higher improvement in psychological distress.


our findings show the efficacy of CBT and the influence of individual coping strategies in the improvement of posttraumatic stress symptoms and psychological distress among young people seeking help from an outpatients service for young people with psychiatric problems (the SMILE) after the catastrophic disaster in L’Aquila.

Keywords: : Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Earthquake, SMILE, Natural Disaster, Anxiety, PTSD.