What is TF-CBT?

There is hope for children dealing with trauma. Whether they suffer from the loss of a loved one, a frightening experience, stress about natural disasters, nightmares about violence or any type of abuse. With effective treatment through the use of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), children are taught how to open up and talk freely about it.


How TF-CBT Works

Children are taught something called PRACTICE skills. This stands for: Psycho-education, Relaxation, Affective Modulation, Cognitive Coping, Trauma Narrative, In-Vivo Exposure, Conjoint Sessions, Enhancing Safety

Healthy coping skills need to be taught before talking about whatever is causing the symptoms, because it can be scary to even think about it. It is during those times of thinking and speaking about the trauma that panic attacks, fear, nightmares, avoidance, and other symptoms appear.

Each letter in the PRACTICE acronym is equally essential to TF-CBT’s effectiveness:

  1. Psycho-education: Teaching the child about the cause of the trauma symptoms.
  2. Relaxation: Teaching relaxation skills to manage symptoms
  3. Affective Modulation: Teaching about feelings and how they are expressed within oneself.
  4. Cognitive Coping: Explaining how thoughts impact feelings and actions.
  5. Trauma Narrative: Helping the recall details about their trauma in order to write in a narrative form.
  6. In-Vivo Exposure: Using exposure to lessen triggers that can get in the way of daily functioning.
  7. Conjoint Sessions: Bringing the parent or caregiver into the treatment.
  8. Enhancing Safety: Teach safety skills that client can use in the future when no longer attending therapy.


The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), there are 7 key reasons that using TF-CBT is crucial to helping children process their trauma in order to lessen the symptoms:

  • it works for children dealing with any trauma, including multiple traumas
  • it is effective with children from all backgrounds
  • it starts to work in as few as 12 treatment sessions
  • it is effective in clinics, schools, homes, residential treatment facilities, and inpatient settings
  • it works even if there is no parent or caregiver to participate in treatment
  • it works for children in foster care
  • it has been used worldwide in all languages

If you have any questions about TF-CBT, call today to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation: +1 (818) 514-5655

I am here to help you in any way that I can. If I am unable to answer my phone, I will contact you within 24 hours or the next business day.

Christina Castorena, MS, LMFT

– Christina Castorena, LMFT
Castorena Therapeutic Services