Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Narrative Exposure Therapy as a treatment for child war survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder: Two case reports and a pilot study in an African refugee settlement

Lamaro P Onyut123, Frank Neuner13*, Elisabeth Schauer13, Verena Ertl3, Michael Odenwald13, Maggie Schauer13 and Thomas Elbert13

Author Affiliations

1 vivo Uganda, Mbarara, Uganda

2 Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda

3 University of Konstanz, Centre for Psychiatry Reichenau, Haus 22, Feursteinstr. 55, D-78479 Reichenau-Lindenbühl, Germany

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BMC Psychiatry 2005, 5:7  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-5-7

Published: 3 February 2005



Little data exists on the effectiveness of psychological interventions for children with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that has resulted from exposure to war or conflict-related violence, especially in non-industrialized countries. We created and evaluated the efficacy of KIDNET, a child-friendly version of Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET), as a short-term treatment for children.


Six Somali children suffering from PTSD aged 12–17 years resident in a refugee settlement in Uganda were treated with four to six individual sessions of KIDNET by expert clinicians. Symptoms of PTSD and depression were assessed pre-treatment, post-treatment and at nine months follow-up using the CIDI Sections K and E.


Important symptom reduction was evident immediately after treatment and treatment outcomes were sustained at the 9-month follow-up. All patients completed therapy, reported functioning gains and could be helped to reconstruct their traumatic experiences into a narrative with the use of illustrative material.


NET may be safe and effective to treat children with war related PTSD in the setting of refugee settlements in developing countries.