About Trauma

PACTS and our providers utilize the established principles of cognitive behavior therapy and trauma treatment called Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy—or TF-CBT. These treatments have been developed by Drs. Judy Cohen, Esther Deblinger, and Anthony Mannarino.

TF-CBT consists of several core treatment components that are designed to be provided in a flexible and developmentally appropriate manner to address the unique needs of each child and family.  Specifically, TF-CBT is a short-term treatment that may work in as few as 12 treatment sessions. Of course, treatment may be provided for longer periods depending on the child and family’s needs.

Individual sessions for the child and for the parents, as well as joint parent-child sessions address the following:

  • Providing education to children and their caregivers about the impact of trauma on children and common childhood reactions to trauma
  • Helping children and parents identify and cope with a range of emotions
  • Developing personalized stress management skills for children and parents
  • Teaching children and parents how to recognize the connections between thoughts, feelings and behaviors
  • Encouraging children to share their traumatic experiences verbally, in the form of a written narrative, or in some other developmentally appropriate manner
  • Helping children and parents talk with each other about the traumatic experiences
  • Modifying children’s and parents’ inaccurate or unhelpful trauma-related thoughts
  • Helping parents develop skills for optimizing their children’s emotional and behavioral adjustment


What is the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI)?

CFTSI is a brief, evidence-based early intervention for children 7-18 years old that reduces traumatic stress reactions and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Treatment Goals

  • Improve screening and identification of children impacted by traumatic stress
  • Reduce traumatic stress symptoms
  • Identify and address concrete external stressors
  • Build communication between caregiver and child
  • Provide skills to help master trauma reactions
  • Assess child’s need for longer-term treatment

 CFTSI: A key addition to your agency’s menu of services

  • Brief (4-6 sessions) manualized treatment
  • Implemented immediately following a potentially traumatic event (PTE) disclosure of a PTE
  • Adaptable for a variety of settings, including those with briefer lengths of stay
  • Can be used successfully with children with extensive trauma histories
  • Seamless introduction to longer-term treatment and other mental health interventions
  • Adapted for use with children in foster care and their caregivers

 Who is CFTSI Appropriate For?

  • Children exposed to multiple types of potentially traumatic events, whether exposure is a single event or chronic (i.e. sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, community violence, rape, assault, motor vehicle accidents, etc.)
  • Children can be referred for CFTSI by law enforcement, child protective services, foster care agencies, pediatric emergency rooms, mental health providers, forensic settings (such as Child Advocacy Centers), schools, etc.
  • CFTSI has been implemented in Child Advocacy Centers and children’s mental health clinics

CFTSI Fills a Gap in Services

An evidenced-based early intervention, CFTSI fills the gap between standardized acute interventions and evidenced-based, longer-term treatments required to deal with enduring post-traumatic reactions

What is the Evidence-Base for CFTSI?

  • A randomized controlled comparative effectiveness trial was completed in 2009
  • Children receiving CFTSI:
    • Were 65% less likely than comparison youth to meet criteria for full PTSD at three month follow-up
    • Were 73% less likely than comparison youth to meet combined criteria for partial and full PTSD at the three month follow-up