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

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The short-term intervention was created to assist children and adolescents who have been through a traumatic event.

Trauma-focused CBT (TF-CBT) addresses trauma, as the name implies. It was created with children and adolescents in mind who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events in their lives.


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Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. CBT is typically a short-term intervention (8 to 12 sessions, sometimes up to 25 sessions) that focuses on a single issue.


The goal of TF-CBT is to assist both children and their non offending caregivers in identifying, understanding, and addressing the effects of trauma, which can range from emotional symptoms to behavioural and learning challenges.


TF-CBT has been shown in numerous randomised controlled trials to be an effective trauma treatment.


What is the mechanism of action of Trauma-focused CBT? 


TF-CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on treating the child as well as educating and empowering the child's caregivers or parents. A central goal is to assist parents in developing positive parenting skills, improving communication, and managing any distress related to the child's trauma, all of which help the child feel more supported.


This therapy includes psychoeducation, which is a therapeutic intervention based on learning information to help patients better understand and cope with illnesses or diagnoses. Understanding the effects of trauma allows you to better cope with it, find practical solutions, and seek help.


Counselors, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists can all provide TF-CBT. Mental health providers must receive specialised training and supervision, as well as TF-CBT certification, to be considered TF-CBT therapists.



Trauma-focused CBT is divided into three treatment phases:


stabilisation, trauma narration, integration, and consolidation.


These three phases are made up of eight components.


Parenting abilities and psychoeducation This entails informing the child about trauma and trauma responses, thereby validating how the child feels. Caregivers are taught techniques for coping with the child's trauma responses, as well as skills training in child behaviour management, positive parenting, and communication improvement.


Techniques for relaxation Relaxation skills are taught to the child to help them cope with trauma responses.

Expression and regulation of affect. This assists both the child and the parent in becoming more comfortable managing, expressing, and identifying their thoughts and feelings, resulting in improved emotional regulation.

Coping and processing cognitively This assists the child and caregiver in identifying potentially incorrect or maladaptive thoughts and behaviours, as well as their links to thoughts and feelings, in order to replace them with more helpful responses.


The development and processing of a trauma narrative. Here, the child addresses specific details about their trauma gradually, often through a creative medium, allowing the child to process the experience and their reactions. In a joint session, the child shares this narrative with their caregiver, allowing parents to process the experience and their reactions.

Experimentation in vivo. This component does not always occur, depending on the child's needs. Rather than encouraging avoidance, this method involves gradually exposing the child to trauma reminders in order to build and develop skills to master fears.

Parent-child sessions that run concurrently. In a therapeutic setting, joint sessions allow caregivers and their children to receive support and discuss the trauma that has occurred.

Improving safety and laying the groundwork for future growth. Through training and skill-building, the therapist, child, and caregiver devise strategies to improve the child's feelings of safety and trust.



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TF-CBT therapy sessions may include the following:


individual consultations with the child

Individual sessions with the caregiver(s), joint sessions with the child and caregiver(s), and group therapy involving both children and caregivers are all options.

CBT for trauma vs. regular CBT

CBT of this type is known as TF-CBT. The main distinction between the two is that, unlike regular CBT, trauma-focused CBT focuses solely on the effects of trauma.



While TF-CBT was designed specifically to help children and adolescents recover from trauma, regular CBT is appropriate for people of all ages.



Regular CBT isn't just for people who have been through trauma; it can also help with anxiety, mood disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and other issues. It can also aid in the treatment of stress, relationship conflict, and anger management issues.


Regular CBT typically focuses on the person who has had a difficult experience, whereas TF-CBT focuses on the child and includes sessions with the parents or caregiver.

What is its purpose?

TF-CBT is effective for treating PTSD symptoms as well as preventing depression and behavioural issues. It may also help Trusted Source with sexualized behaviours and feelings of shame in traumatised children.


According to the research on TF-CBT, it can be effective for a variety of traumas, including experiencing or witnessing:


• physical or sexual abuse • neglect • bereavement • domestic violence • community violence • accidents • natural disasters • war


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