Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
An Effective Practice
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT) is a treatment intervention designed to help 3- to 18-year-olds and their parents overcome the negative effects of traumatic life events such as child sexual or physical abuse. TFCBT was created for young people who have developed significant emotional or behavioral difficulties following exposure to a traumatic event (e.g., loss of a loved one, physical abuse, domestic or community violence, motor vehicle accidents, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, industrial accidents, terrorist attacks). The program operates through the use of a parental treatment component and several child-parent sessions. The parent component teaches parents effective parenting skills to provide optimal support for their children. The parent-child session encourages children to discuss the traumatic events directly with the parent, and both parent and child learn to communicate questions, concerns, and feelings more openly.
Goal / Mission
The goals of the center are to alleviate serious symptoms and promote healthy coping responses in traumatized children and their families.
Results / Accomplishments
There have been several randomized controlled trials demonstrating the efficacy of TFCBT in children ages 3-18. The largest evaluation to date is Cohen and Deblinger's 2004 study involving 229 sexually abused and multiply traumatized children between ages 8-14. In Cohen and Deblinger's study, children in the treatment group showed significantly more improvement in their PTSD symptoms (reexperiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal) than their counterparts in the control group. Their parents also showed greater improvement (than the control parents) in their own self-reported levels of depression, abuse-specific distress, support of the children, and effective parenting practice.
About this Promising Practice
- Primary Contact
- Judith A. Cohen, M.D.
Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents
Allegheny General Hospital
Four Allegheny Center, Eighth Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Health / Mental Health & Mental Disorders
Health / Teen & Adolescent Health
- Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents
- The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Model Programs Guide (MPG)
- Date of publication
- Pittsburgh, PA
- For more details
- Target Audience
- Children, Teens