TRAUMA-FOCUSED COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
What is a trauma?
A trauma is any very scary or even life-threatening situation that a child might experience. There are many different types of traumas. A few examples include child sexual abuse; witnessing domestic violence; being in an accident; a serious animal bite; and surgery, hospitalization, or other invasive medical procedures. Hearing about something horrific happening to a loved one can also be traumatizing. What traumatic situations have in common is that they disrupt a child’s sense of safety.
What are some signs my child might need help?
Some children “bounce back” quickly after a trauma. However, many children develop post-traumatic symptoms. These symptoms might include:
- nightmares or trouble sleeping
- strong reactions to reminders of the trauma
- trouble concentrating
- being jumpy or startling easily
- avoiding any reminders of what happened
- frequent stomachaches or headaches
- becoming moody and irritable
- withdrawing or losing interest in things
- behavior problems
- trouble getting along with others
- re-enacting what happened with toys, or bringing it up over and over again
- “freezing up,” or seeming unresponsive or “spaced out”
When this happens, children need help to cope with what has happened and begin to heal. The good news is that therapy can help. And it can help not only children, but their caregivers too.
How can trauma therapy help?
We have therapists who specialize in helping children and families heal from trauma, including therapists trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). TF-CBT is a therapy program especially designed to help children and teens heal from sexual abuse and other traumatic experiences. Children learn skills for expressing and managing their thoughts and feelings, and have the opportunity to process what happened in a healthy, productive way. Parents and caregivers learn how to support their child’s healing and overcome their own feelings about the abuse or trauma.
Over 18 research studies have shown that TF-CBT helps kids feel less depressed and anxious, have fewer PTSD symptoms, and have fewer behavior problems. TF-CBT benefits caregivers as well, reducing the distress that many parents experience when their child has been traumatized.