Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at CII

May 31, 2024
Michelle Vazquez

What is Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)?

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a structured, short-term evidence-based treatment developed by Drs. Anthony Mannarino, Judith Cohen and Esther Deblinger that effectively improves a range of trauma-related outcomes in 8-25 sessions with the child/adolescent and caregiver. This form of therapy can be useful for a variety of experiences and traumas and has proven to be highly effective at improving youth post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and diagnosis (Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, 2024).

Currently, 25 randomized controlled trials have been conducted in the U.S., Europe and Africa, comparing TF-CBT to other active treatment conditions. The totality of this research is what distinguishes TF-CBT from other child trauma interventions and finding it superior for improving children’s trauma symptoms and responses (Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, 2024).

At Children’s Institute, TF-CBT can be an important tool in helping children and families who have experienced trauma and/or violence in their life.

First-Hand Experience from Ingrid E. Mürrle, LMFT, CII Therapist and Training Center Clinical Manager

“One of the adjunct benefits of TF-CBT is caregiver involvement. Studies have shown that the more involved a caregiver is in treatment, the better the outcome.

In one case, we had a caregiver who was feeling hopeless; yet she came to our sessions each week. I had the opportunity to work closely with her and we went through each of the TF-CBT components just like we did with the child, both separately and together. During the treatment, we began to look at how thoughts can impact behaviors which impact feelings. This is an intervention we use with the kids and with caregivers. We approached it little differently by helping them work backwards from what they see to what the child is experiencing.

With this caregiver, we made a list of the child’s behaviors that were challenging. After going through the list, I challenged this caregiver to think about the internal effect a child behaving in those ways would feel. The last step was to imagine what someone with all these behaviors and feelings would be thinking of themselves. The caregiver began to cry as she realized that the child was feeling unworthy, unloved, and unimportant. It was one of those sessions where you walk out drained yet knowing something powerful had just happened.”

At CII, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been proven to help children and their families process and heal from the effects of traumatic experiences. If you would like to learn more about TF-CBT as a clinician or parent, please visit