There are several effective evidence-based practices designed to help children or teens who are grieving or experiencing trauma and grief. They include:
Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy or TF-CBT, tailored to childhood grief and trauma. Originally developed by psychiatrist Judith A. Cohen, MD, and psychologists Esther Deblinger, PhD, and Anthony P. Mannarino, PhD, to treat children who have been sexually abused, the modified intervention recognizes that children’s trauma must be addressed before they can move on to grief. Children learn to manage their trauma reactions, write or record “trauma narratives” that help them become desensitized to the traumatic events, and learn skills to help them move forward. For training, visit Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Multidimensional grief therapy, developed by Julie Kaplow, PhD, ABPP, executive director of the Trauma and Grief Centers in Houston and New Orleans, and colleagues Christopher Layne, PhD, Robert Pynoos, MD, and William Saltzman, PhD. The intervention recognizes that youth can experience grief reactions in any or all of three domains: separation distress, existential or identity distress, and circumstance-related distress. In turn, there are adaptive strategies specific to each kind of grief that can help children adapt and grow in positive ways from the loss. The treatment is guided by an assessment tool that measures distress levels across each dimension. Starting this fall, the Trauma and Grief Center in Houston will begin hosting no-cost learning collaboratives to train clinicians in this intervention. Learn more at Trauma and Grief Center, and for alerts on upcoming training and registration information, visit Trauma and Grief (TAG) Center Training.
Resilient Parenting for Bereaved Families, developed by Irwin Sandler, PhD, and colleagues, is based on research on the Family Bereavement Program, which builds family cohesion and connections by helping caregivers develop good listening skills and foster open family communication, structure, and bonding time with bereaved kids. Caregiver self-care is an important component of the program. Research on the program found that 15 years after young people joined, they had significantly less prolonged grief, mental health problems, and suicidal ideation and attempts than controls, and that quality of parenting was the primary mediator for reduced suicidal thoughts and behaviors (Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 86, No. 10, 2018). For training, visit Resilient Parenting for Bereaved Families.
Other evidence-based treatments include the Grief and Trauma Intervention, developed by Alison Salloum, PhD, for children ages 7 to 12 who have witnessed or been victims of one or more types of violence or a disaster; and Trauma and Grief Component Therapy for Adolescents, a group or individual treatment program for older children and teens who have been traumatically bereaved or exposed to trauma.
(2022). Vol. 53 No. 7. Pg. 73. Evidence-Based Practices for Childhood Grief and Trauma. American Psychological Association.