Trauma Focused – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or TF-CBT is evidence-based treatment for children and adolescents (ages 6-18) impacted by trauma and their parents or caregivers. Research shows that TF-CBT successfully resolves a broad array of emotional and behavioral difficulties associated with single, multiple and complex trauma experiences.
This type of therapy primarily focuses on the child, but does include a trusted adult at various points throughout the process. With TF-CBT, everyone learns about trauma and the common reactions both a person who has experienced trauma and the caregiver reactions to traumatic experiences. It then moves into coping and relaxation skills to teach us how to stay regulated even though there are strong emotions. After the child is starting to show that they are able to cope and regulate, the negative cognitions that happen as a result of trauma are addressed.
At the middle point of this therapeutic process the child will start creating what is called a trauma narrative, which is the child’s story of what has happened. At this time, the trusted adult is brought back in and is having individual sessions with the therapist to be taught and coached in how to respond to the child in the next step of TF-CBT. This is the sharing of the trauma narrative, the child shares the narrative that they have created with the trusted adult. The last steps of this therapeutic process is creating a future safety plan for when any triggers come up for the child. Then celebrating the progress that has been made.
This therapy, because it works with children, does need parent/guardian involvement and will not be as successful without it. This is the same with any other therapy model that is used with children.