Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)

Initially, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) was created to better serve children who were victims of sexual abuse. Since the 1990s, this approach has broadened its scope to assist both children and adolescents in addressing their mental health requirements, especially when grappling with the detrimental consequences of early trauma. This method has been proven effective for treating the aftermath of trauma, and therapists in TF-CBT are trained to aid children in addressing and resolving its negative impact.

How Does Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

Generally, TF-CBT is considered a short-term, evidence-based intervention lasting anywhere between eight and 25 sessions and is similar to family-style therapy. This form of therapy invites a non-offending parent or caregiver to join the sessions to understand emotional regulation better while learning healthy coping mechanisms. The family dynamic of this approach is crucial in building a strong support system at home to facilitate the healing process.

There are three stages of TF-CBT. Stabilization, trauma narration and processing, and integration and consolidation.

Traumatic events can lead to emotional and psychological damage. TF-CBT aims to improve symptoms of post-traumatic stress, particularly in youth, through psychoeducation. It also emphasizes equipping the caregiver with tools and resources to be more confident in assisting the child through intense emotions, building social skills, and reframing negative thoughts.

As a skills-based model, this treatment style necessitates the practice of its components by both child and parent for optimal effectiveness. This method develops skills between the child and caregiver to combat emotions in a healthy manner while learning communication techniques. The core components of TF-CBT can be summarized by the acronym PRACTICE. This technique is used to keep children and the caregiver aligned in the mission of TF-CBT.

Is CBT Right For Me?

Deciding if Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the right choice for you involves considering a few key factors. If you’re grappling with negative thought patterns, anxiety, depression, or behavioral challenges, CBT’s structured approach might offer practical solutions. Its evidence-based nature could align with your preference for proven techniques. CBT’s hands-on methods suit you well if you’re motivated to actively participate in your therapeutic journey, engage in self-reflection, and practice new skills. Additionally, if you’re seeking a relatively brief, goal-oriented therapy focused on managing current challenges and equipping you with coping tools, CBT could be a suitable fit. It’s always a good idea to consult a mental health professional who can assess your specific needs and help you determine whether CBT aligns with your unique circumstances and goals. Remember, finding the right therapy is a personalized process, and the ultimate decision should be based on what resonates best with your preferences and needs.

Core components of TF-CBT include:


Psychoeducation and parenting skills




Affective regulation


Cognitive processing of the trauma


Trauma narrative


In vivo mastery of trauma reminders


Conjoint child-parent sessions


Enhancing Future Safety and Development

The Power of Growth

When trauma is not treated properly, it can quickly surface and affect various aspects of your life. Scheduling an individual therapy session can seem like a daunting task, especially with such stigma around mental illness. Creating a safe space between yourself and a professional can be a life-changing experience as you delve deeper into life’s triggers while improving your overall wellness, mentally and emotionally.

Discover Healing with Onyx Behavioral Health

At Onyx Behavioral Health, we work to empower our residents to become productive citizens and stable individuals in their respective environments. We hope to guide and ground you in repairing your mind, body, and soul.
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