TF-CBT can be delivered to children ages 3-18 who have experienced an identified trauma and are experiencing posttraumatic symptoms, including depression, anxiety, or behavior issues in response to the trauma. It should be noted that some children are very resilient and, even after experiencing a trauma, do not exhibit significant symptoms or disrupted functioning; such youth would not be appropriate for TF-CBT. In addition, TF-CBT is not appropriate when trauma is “suspected” or “may have happened,” but is not substantiated.
Upon referral to TF-CBT, youth should be assessed by a mental health professional to ensure TF-CBT is the most appropriate service. This assessment should include information from a variety of sources, including interviews with the child and caregiver and at least one objective measure of trauma symptoms. While TF-CBT includes pre-post assessment using a standardized instrument, no specific score is required for a youth to receive TF-CBT.
TF-CBT is most effective when a non-offending parent or caregiver participates in treatment with the child, although it can be delivered without the parent/caregiver component when this resource is not available.
For additional information, see the Referral Criteria for TF-CBT Checklist and our list of clinical assessment tools.