Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy | UC Davis CAARE Diagnostic and Treatment Center | UC Davis Children's Hospital

CAARE Diagnostic and Treatment Center

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is an empirically supported treatment that helps children to overcome trauma related to abuse, violence and grief, such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, and domestic violence. Organizations and governmental institutions recognize TF-CBT as a model program and best practice for treating children who have experienced abuse and trauma (links). There is extensive outcome data documenting the effectiveness of TF-CBT in reducing PTSD symptoms and shame, decreasing depressive and anxiety symptoms, as well as disruptive and sexualized behaviors.  Furthermore, TF-CBT leads to significant reductions in levels of parental distress and improvements in the quality and level of parental support.

TF-CBT goals include:

  • Helping children cope with trauma related distress through use of healthy coping skills
  • Helping children to process their traumatic experiences
  • Assisting non-offending caregivers in responding supportively to children’s distress and helping them cope with their own feelings related to the trauma
  • Improving communication between caregivers and children
  • Reducing children’s behavioral and emotional difficulties
  • Enhancing future safety in order to reduce risk of re-victimization

This therapy is for children ages 3 to 18 who have significant behavioral and emotional difficulties related to traumatic life events. TF-CBT has been used effectively with boys and girls from all socioeconomic backgrounds, who are residing in a variety of settings (e.g., with parents/relatives, adoptive or foster placements, group homes), and who are from diverse ethnic and cultural groups. Treatment typically lasts 12 to 16 sessions.

Additional resources

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network site provides more information on trauma treatments, trauma types and other services for traumatized children and their families.

Visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network site

CSAT – Child Sexual Abuse Treatment program

The Child Sexual Abuse Treatment (CSAT) program provides Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to children who have been sexually abused at the time of they are identified by law enforcement agencies and Child Protective Services.  Non-offending parents and caregivers will receive support services designed to help them to respond to their children in a manner that will support their recovery and long-term emotional well being.