How important is it to include caregivers when providing Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)?

Parent involvement in treatment is best practice when delivering Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). While TF-CBT can be delivered without the parent/caregiver component when caregiver involvement is just not possible, the intervention is most effective when a non-offending parent or caregiver participates in treatment with the child. Research has shown that parent involvement is particularly effective for decreasing depression and behavior problems in traumatized youth.

The involved adult does not have to be the youth’s custodial parent. For example, another responsible caregiver such as a foster parent or direct care staff in a residential facility can be involved in a youth’s treatment.

Note that, in order to become a nationally certified TF-CBT therapist, clinicians must complete three TF-CBT cases and at least two of those cases must actively involve a caregiver or other responsible party. Therefore, regularly delivering TF-CBT without caregiver involvement may prevent therapists from meeting certification requirements, as well as impact client outcomes.