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Trauma-Focused Therapy

There is Hope. The Cullen Center can help children and families heal after experiencing a traumatic event. Our goal is to partner with families and work toward recovery. Part of our job as experts is to find the best possible tools available to help families reclaim their lives. For this reason, The Cullen Center always uses therapy models that are trauma-focused and evidence-based. A therapy model is considered evidence-based when it has been tested and proven to improve children’s functioning and to reduce his or her trauma-related symptoms. While other educational programs and therapy models or techniques, including group interventions, may be used on occasion, the two primary evidence-based models used at The Cullen Center are Child Parent Psychotherapy and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Child Parent Psychotherapy

Child Parent Psychotherapy is an evidence-based therapy model for infants, toddlers and preschoolers up to six years of age which aims to strengthen the caregiver-child relationship so that both the child and the caregiver can heal and cope with the negative impacts of all types of trauma. Through Child Parent Psychotherapy, the child can decrease anxiety, develop more confident and trusting relationships, decrease trauma-related symptoms, decrease disruptive behaviors, and can also help children and caregivers learn new ways to communicate with each other and cope with difficulties. Participation in the sessions by the caregiver is essential to help the child heal from the effects of trauma. The average treatment using this therapy model may last up to one year.

The Components of Child Parent Psychotherapy

This evidence-based therapy model is made up of several components.

  • Learning and practicing safety skills
  • Providing concrete assistance with problems
  • Providing crisis intervention
  • Using play and language to promote healthy exploration
  • Providing emotional support
  • Providing information on child development
  • Role modeling
  • Teaching effective coping skills
  • Enhancing child and parent-shared activities
  • Helping the child to express his or her feelings regarding what happened to him or her

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an evidence-based therapy model that helps children approximately seven years and older, teenagers and their families heal from the effects of traumatic experiences. It was developed by Judith Cohen, MD; Anthony Mannarino, PhD, and Esther Deblinger, PhD.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been proven effective by a significant number of studies, all of which recognize this treatment as the best method for helping children, teenagers and their families cope with trauma. According to this research, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy participants report reduced feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, and panic, as well as a decrease in symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Ultimately, participants and their families feel better about themselves, they are less ashamed and they are more capable of supporting one another and using effective communication. This therapy model is estimated to range from 16 – 24 sessions.

The Components of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This evidence-based therapy model is made up of several components.

  • Education: about trauma and how it affects the brain, body, emotions, and relationships.
  • Stress management: Learning and practicing ways to relax and deal with stress and traumatic reminders.
  • Cognitive coping: Learning how thoughts are affected by the trauma, how to manage negative thoughts and how to develop positive thinking skills.
  • Trauma narrative: Telling the story of what happened. This can be done through writing, playing, drawing, etc. and it helps provide a better understanding of how the traumatic experiences have made changes in your child and family. Through understanding, you and your child can begin to regain control of your lives as survivors.
  • Caregiver support and education: The caregiver is very involved in all of the above therapy components. Families will also be supported in sharing their experiences, and expressing their hopes and goals with one another.