What is TF-CBT and why use it?

by | Oct 13, 2022 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Prior to being trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT) in 2015, we’d heard of TF-CBT though understood little about it. Since this time, we’ve come to learn a lot about TF-CBT. Here’s some of what we’ve learnt:

  • TF-CBT was developed by Drs. Anthony Mannarino, Judy Deblinger and Esther Cohen in the United States in the 1990s. It was first used with pre-school aged children who experienced sexual abuse and has since been used for children and young people up to age 25, for all types of traumas and in many countries around the world.
  • TF-CBT is an evidence-based intervention for children and adolescents who experience emotional and behavioural difficulties related to one or more traumatic experiences.  Adaptations have been made for traumatic grief and for complex trauma. TF-CBT is a structured intervention lasting between 8-16 sessions and up to 25 sessions for complex trauma. Research has been conducted on the application of TF-CBT in varying settings (community, school, inpatient) and across varying populations (refugee populations, diverse cultural backgrounds, persons with developmental disabilities).
  • The inclusion of non-offending parents/caregivers is an important part of TF-CBT. Whilst TF-CBT of course has strong Cognitive Behavioural underpinnings, it also incorporates components of attachment theory and a family therapy approach. Supportive non-offending parents/caregivers play a key part in a child’s recovery from trauma – from understanding the impacts of trauma on their child, to learning how to respond to their child’s difficult behaviours and emotions, to adjusting their own maladaptive beliefs regarding the trauma their child experienced.

So now that you know a bit about what TF-CBT is, why use it?

One word, Evidence!

  • Trauma focused psychotherapies are recommended as first-line treatments for children and adolescents experiencing PTSD (AACAP, 2010; NICE Guidelines, 2018) and TF-CBT is identified as an empirically supported intervention for children and adolescents with PTSD.
  • Research also indicates that TF-CBT helps in reducing depression (Jensen et al., 2017), which is often co-morbid with trauma, and helps in improving child resilience (Deblinger, Pollio, Runyon, & Steer, 2017) and reduction in parental distress (Deblinger, Lippman, & Steer, 1996).
  • TF-CBT is adaptive across settings and populations. Research has been conducted on the application of TF-CBT in various settings (community, school, inpatient), across varying populations (refugee populations, diverse cultural backgrounds, persons with co-morbid disorders) and across ages from three to 25 years old.

To find out more about training in TF-CBT go to psychologytrainingandsupervision.com.au

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