Trauma Focused CBT for Children
Child traumatic stress occurs when children and adolescents are exposed to traumatic events or traumatic situations, and when this exposure overwhelms their ability to cope with what they have experienced.
Depending on their age, children respond to traumatic stress in different ways. Many children show signs of intense distress—interrupted sleep, difficulty paying attention and concentrating, anger and irritability, withdrawal, repeated and intrusive thoughts—when confronted by anything that reminds them of their traumatic experiences. Often, children develop psychiatric conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and a variety of behavioral disorders.
While some children "bounce back" after adversity, traumatic experiences can result in a significant disruption of child or adolescent development and have profound long-term consequences. Repeated exposure to traumatic events can affect the child's brain and nervous system and increase the risk of low academic performance, engagement in high-risk behaviors, and difficulties in peer and family relationships. Traumatic stress can cause increased use of health and mental health services and increased involvement with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Adult survivors of traumatic events may have difficulty in establishing fulfilling relationships, holding steady jobs, and becoming productive members of our society. Fortunately, there are effective treatments for child traumatic stress.*
At Haven Professional Counseling, we are equipped and trained to help your child or teen recover from their trauma experience.
TF-CBT is an evidence based practice, and has been found to be a powerful tool in helping to alleviate the distress of traumatized children and their families. But more importantly, our families tell us it works. TF-CBT consists of several core treatment components that are designed to be provided in a flexible and developmentally appropriate manner to address the unique needs of each child and family. Specifically, TF-CBT is typically a 4 to 6 month modality time frame, delivered in weekly sessions with therapist. Treatment may be provided for longer periods depending on the child and family's needs. Individual sessions for the child and for the parents, as well as joint parent-child sessions address the following:
- Providing education to children and their caregivers about the impact of trauma on children and common childhood reactions to trauma
- Helping children and parents identify and cope with a range of emotions
- Developing personalized stress management skills for children and parents
- Teaching children and parents how to recognize the connections between thoughts, feelings and behaviors
- Encouraging children to share their traumatic experiences either verbally, in the form of a written narrative, or in some other developmentally appropriate manner.
- Helping children and parents talk with each other about the traumatic experiences
- Modifying children's and parents' inaccurate or unhelpful trauma-related thoughts, and
- Helping parents develop skills for optimizing their children's emotional and behavioral adjustment*