What is TF-CBT?
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) was developed by Drs. Anthony Mannarino, Judith Cohen and Esther Deblinger. TF-CBT is an evidence-based treatment that has been evaluated and refined during the past 25 years to help children and adolescents recover after trauma. Currently, 21 randomized controlled trials have been conducted in the U.S., Europe and Africa, comparing TF-CBT to other active treatment conditions. All of these studies have documented that TF-CBT was superior for improving children’s trauma symptoms and responses. TF-CBT is a structured, short-term treatment model that effectively improves a range of trauma-related outcomes in 8-25 sessions with the child/adolescent and caregiver. Although TF-CBT is highly effective at improving youth posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and diagnosis, a PTSD diagnosis is not required in order to receive this treatment. TF-CBT also effectively addresses many other trauma impacts, including affective (e.g., depressive, anxiety), cognitive and behavioral problems, as well as improving the participating parent’s or caregiver’s personal distress about the child’s traumatic experience, effective parenting skills, and supportive interactions with the child.
The federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has recognized TF-CBT as a Model Program due to the extensive outcome data from randomized controlled trials that support its effectiveness in improving a variety of problems. While TF-CBT was originally developed to address the needs of children who experienced sexual abuse, over the past 15 years it has been used and studied for many other populations of traumatized youth. Research now documents that TF-CBT is effective for diverse, multiple and complex trauma experiences, for youth of different developmental levels, and across different cultures.
Why Become Certified in TF-CBT?
Over the past 15 years, there has been widespread dissemination of TF-CBT. Based on our experience and similar experiences from others who have developed empirically-supported treatments, we have learned that completing an online web-based course or attending a live training is not adequate for sustained implementation of a treatment approach. In fact, most clinicians will take these basic training experiences, perhaps use some of the ideas in their clinical practice but generally fall back on the clinical skills and interventions that they are most familiar and comfortable with.
In order to encourage and sustain successful implementation, we believe that it is necessary for clinicians to have ongoing follow-up supervision or consultation with experts in TF-CBT or involvement in TF-CBT learning collaboratives or communities. These follow-up experiences assist clinicians to identify the challenges and barriers in implementing TF-CBT, attain success in overcoming these challenges and barriers, develop creative strategies of implementing the TF-CBT components and increase the likelihood that clinicians will implement the model with fidelity. With expert supervision and consultation, clinicians will gain confidence in implementing TF-CBT which makes it more likely that they will continue to use the model effectively in their practice.
The TF-CBT Therapist Certification Program is also designed to assist in responding to the increasing demand for TF-CBT certified therapists across the nation and the world. Contact information for therapists who meet the TF-CBT certification criteria and pass the knowledge-based test will be placed on our TF-CBT National Register, although this is not required. This register will enhance the accessibility of TF-CBT trained therapists to child welfare organizations, mental health referral services, parents, teachers, guidance counselors and others located throughout the nation. In addition, the register will allow us to keep certified therapists updated on important TF-CBT related clinical and research developments relevant to their work in the field.