Brighter Futures: Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy


Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an evidence-based intervention offered to children ages 3-18 years old who struggle with trauma related symptoms, such as Post-Traumatic Stress, depression and/or anxiety.

Practitioners utilize and teach a variety of techniques to children and their caregivers to reduce symptoms of traumatic stress, such as psycho-education, relaxation, affect modulation and cognitive coping. Throughout TF-CBT, practitioners use in-vivo exposure with both children and their caregivers to reduce avoidance and to separate trauma triggers from fear. Joint caregiver-child sessions are sometimes used in addition to individual child and individual caregiver sessions. For example, individual child sessions will be used during the creation of the trauma narrative and joint sessions will be used for the sharing of the child’s trauma narrative with the caregiver.

At Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, TF-CBT is implemented within a child welfare context. The model is uniquely adapted to allow the primary caregiver to be chosen based on a variety of factors, such as the permanency goal and the child’s wishes. As services are tailored to improve effectiveness, checks of fidelity to the original TF-CBT model are concurrently implemented.



Meghan Christian
Shawna Cravillion
Kelly Enger
Jenell Loreck
Robin Matchett-Schmidt
James Topitzes


Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, Brighter Futures Initiative funding provided by the Department of Children and Families Office of Youth Services, 2016-present


Public Policy Institute

Department of Children and Families, Office of Youth Services

Treating Trauma and Traumatic Grief in Children and Adolescents (J.A. Cohen, A.P. Mannarino, and E. Deblinger; NY: Guilford Press, 2006)

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