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Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT)

Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT) is an evidence based treatment protocol that facilitates healing from traumatic experiences. The treatment protocol offers modules that teach coping skills and provide desensitization for the intrusive and disruptive emotions. TF-CBT respects the individuality of the consumer and their unique personal stories and needs. This therapy can be used with all ages and populations. The length of treatment is typically 6-9 months from start to completion.

TF-CBT treats the youth and the caregiving system supporting the youth. This might include biologic parents, foster parents and county partners. The treatment starts with psychoeducation on how the emotional brain reacts to toxic stress. We encourage extensive discussion and interaction around how the problem-solving brain (prefrontal cortex) helps to manage toxic stress and re-regulate the emotional brain. Reactions of flight, fight and freeze are normalized as natural reactions of the emotional brain under perceived threat.

Caregivers and youth are taught coping skills to manage the emotional distress from traumatic memories, intrusive thoughts and neuroemotional hypervigilance. These coping strategies may include breath-based meditation, noticing and naming bodily signs of distress, and helping widen their feelings vocabulary. Therapists teach and coach cognitive strategies including, Errors in Thinking and the causal relationship between sensations, feelings, thoughts, and actions.

The eight components of TF-CBT treatment, which can be referenced via the acronym “PRACTICE”.

Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT) has been shown to be an effective treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Childhood Traumatic Grief (CTG) in youth and adults. When the traumas are chronic and began in early development, it is often the only treatment that helps youth heal.  Complex developmental trauma affects a youth’s brain by interfering with working memory, reasoning and planning skills. The coping strategies that TF-CBT teaches help to improve executive functions and memory abilities.

TF-CBT can also be used to address Childhood Traumatic Grief (CTG). In CTG, the clinician provides developmentally and culturally appropriate education to the grieving youth and his/her caregivers about death. The therapist inquires about their beliefs regarding death and afterlife. Therapy includes naming ‘inside feelings’, observing how ‘inside feelings show on the outside, reviewing positive and negative experiences with the deceased and completing a “goodbye”. There are exercises devoted to preserving positive memories of the deceased and acceptance of the idea that people may differ in their feelings towards the deceased.

For more information on any of our programs, please contact Mary Simon at 608-827-7100 or via email.