Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is an evidence-based treatment that helps children and their families address the negative effects of trauma, including processing their traumatic memories, overcoming problematic thoughts and behaviors, and developing effective coping and interpersonal skills. The Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach is applied in a safe and stable environment to encourage clients to share their feelings and aims to help those who have experienced trauma learn how to manage difficult emotions in a healthier way.
The therapist will prioritize skill-building for both the child and the parents, and assign homework for families to practice these skills. TF-CBT combines elements drawn from multiple approaches and theories:
- Cognitive therapy, which aims to change behavior by addressing a person’s thoughts or perceptions, particularly those thinking patterns that create distorted or unhelpful views
- Behavioral therapy, which focuses on modifying habitual responses (e.g., anger, fear) to nondangerous situations or stimuli
- Family therapy, which examines patterns of interactions among family members to identify and alleviate problems
- Attachment theory, which emphasizes the importance of the parent-child relationship
- Developmental neurobiology, which provides insight on the developing brain during childhood
Studies have shown that children participating in TF-CBT show a wide range of improvements, including decreases in PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety, behavior problems, shame, cognitive distortions, and relationship difficulties.
Goals of TF-CBT:
- To provide a process in which the child and his or her nonoffending caregivers learn about trauma and develop strategies to reduce related stress and modulate and control associated feelings and thoughts
- To provide structured opportunities for children and adolescents, with the support of their nonoffending caregiver(s), to process the trauma and learn to cope with stimuli that may lead to traumatic reactions
- To support the child or adolescent in developing and maintaining a secure sense of safety as well as adaptive social skills
Youth Home has made a commitment to be a trauma-informed agency with all team members (both clinical and non-clinical) completing extensive training surrounding trauma-informed care. Trauma-informed care is a focus around organizational culture with a shift from “What is wrong with you? to “What happened to you?”
Recent research has proven that early childhood trauma affects how a child’s brain develops and rather than traditional more punitive methods of discipline, we have learned that healing happens within the context of a relationship. Often a child’s behavior is a maladaptive way of seeking connection. We focus more on forming safe healthy relationships with our patients. When a child’s behavior is inappropriate or damages a bond with a peer or staff member, we employ ways to restore the relationship rather than simply punish a child for their behavior.