Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT)

TF-CBT is a clinic-based, individual, short-term treatment that involves individual sessions with the child and parent as well as joint parent-child sessions.The goal of TF-CBT is to help address the biopsychosocial needs of children, with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other problems related to traumatic life experiences, and their parents or primary caregivers. TF-CBT is a model of psychotherapy that combines trauma-sensitive interventions with cognitive behavioral therapy. Children and parents are provided knowledge and skills related to processing the trauma; managing distressing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; and enhancing safety, parenting skills, and family communication.

TF-CBT should be provided to those children who have significant behavioral or emotional problems that are related to traumatic life events, even if they do not meet full diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Treatment results in improvements in PTSD symptoms as well as in depression, anxiety, behavior problems, sexualized behaviors, traumarelated shame, interpersonal trust, and social competence.

A series of randomized controlled trials have demonstrated the superiority of TF-CBT over nondirective play therapy and supportive therapies in children (ages 3 to 14) who have experienced multiple traumas, and those positive results were maintained over time. TF-CBT has proven to be effective in improving PTSD, depression, anxiety, externalizing behaviors, sexualized behaviors, feelings of shame, and mistrust. The parental component of TF-CBT increases the positive effects of TF-CBT for children by improving parents’ own levels of depression, emotional distress about their children’s abuse, support of the child, and parenting practices.

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