This study examines the social cognition and social network of children experiencing PTSD symptoms. Trauma can have a lot of impact on a child and their environment. For example, on social cognition. By social cognition we mean how children process, interpret and respond to the world and social interactions with another person. Social cognition consists of four domains:
- Mentalisation: being able to take another person's perspective;
- Attributional style: the explanations a person gives for another's behaviour;
- Social perception: recognising social rules and norms;
- Emotion recognition: perceiving emotions;
Research already shows impairments in each domain among adults with PTSD symptoms, but this research is not yet there in children. Moreover, impairments in social cognition can also make forming a social network difficult.
Therefore, this study investigates whether in children with PTSD, as in adults, there are impairments in the four domains of social cognition and how this relates to social network. It also examines how social cognition and network develop when children receive treatment for their PTSD symptoms.
To answer these questions, first, a clinical group will be recruited. It consists of children aged 8 to 12 with PTSD symptoms. They fill in questionnaires and do tasks before starting treatment and when treatment is finished. Parents also fill in questionnaires at these times.
In addition, a control group is recruited for comparison. This group also consists of children between 8 and 12 years old, but without PTSD symptoms. These children also do questionnaires and tasks twice, with a few months in between. However, no treatment takes place during this period.
With the results of this study, we aim to improve the treatment of PTSD symptoms in children.