What is Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)?

By Kimberly Jackson-Luzader, MEd, LPC

Many times we hear parents say, “I want what’s best for my child.” When it comes to outpatient therapy and counseling for children there are many forms of treatment that are evidence-based and effective for children. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral therapy is an evidence-based treatment model that is effective in treating children ages 3-18 who are having difficulty coping following a traumatic event. TF-CBT is considered the “Gold Standard” for treating trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in children. Some traumatic events can be identified as: sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, domestic violence, or traumatic grief. Traumatic grief can be described as an unexpected death of a loved one that is distressing to the child. Some examples of traumatic grief would be a violent death of a loved one (sibling, parent, cousin, etc.), or a parent/caregiver death from an accident or chronic illness.

TF-CBT is a short-term treatment model and can be completed in an average of 12-16 sessions. *Approximately 80% of children who receive TF-CBT report decrease in symptoms following treatment. Children and adolescents learn how to increase coping skills to better manage reactions to trauma reminders and increase their ability to verbalize the trauma to caregivers. This model is structured and uses gradual exposure methods to help children manage anxiety symptoms. A combination of individual, parent, and conjoint (parent and child) sessions are provided. For more information on whether this form of therapy is best for your child, please contact Kimberly Jackson-Luzader for evaluation.

*National Child Traumatic Stress Network has gathered empirical data to support effectiveness of TF-CBT.

Additional Resources:

Facts for Families

Information on PTSD in Children and Adolescents

What is Traumatic Grief?

Trauma Resources for Parents and Caregivers