Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery

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Interventions and Treatment



Interventions

The Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention
CFTSI is a brief intervention that aims to prevent PTSD in youth ages 7-18 that have been exposed to a traumatic event, such as physical abuse, assault or accidental injury. The 4-6 session caregiver-child intervention may begin within days after their exposure.

The primary aim of the intervention is to enhance the caregiver's emotional support of the affected youth. This is accomplished by improving communication between the caregiver and child about his or her symptoms and then providing specific skills that the family can employ to address them.

We believe that this approach creates an opportunity out of the crisis by strengthening the caregiver's skills. Emotional support has been found to be an essential protective factor for traumatized individuals during the post event period. The caregiver is the primary therapeutic agent in the Intervention, which we believe demystifies the process of therapy.

Many youth and caregivers will be assessed as requiring on-going treatment for a range of psychological symptoms and disorders, some of which will have predated the recent traumatic response. It is anticipated that families that participate in the Intervention will be more likely to accept referrals to treatment when necessary.

The CFTSI includes: 

  • A comprehensive diagnostic assessment, which evaluates traumatic stress symptoms as well as their pre-existing symptoms.
  • Psychoeducation regarding symptoms and their management.
  • Administration of clinical, semi-structured symptom interviews, which guide the ongoing communication between the caregiver and the child.
  • Individual child and parent sessions as well as joint meetings to review symptoms, provide coping skills and strategies for home, as well as monitor progress.


Treatment

Treatment for Traumatic Stress and PTSD
For children and youth are who exhibit long-standing traumatic stress symptoms or PTSD due to traumatic experiences from the more distant past receive "Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy" (TF-CBT), an effective evidence-based treatment designed to help children, adolescents and their caretakers work through challenges related to traumatic stress.

TF-CBT includes:

  • In-depth psychiatric and psychological evaluations
  • Thorough review of the child or youth's developmental and family history
  • Collaboration with the child's prior treatment team to facilitate assessment and obtain treatment history
  • Identification of treatment goals and development of a treatment plan
  • Teaching tools such as relaxation techniques, affective expression and regulation, cognitive processing, family work, and enhancing personal sense of safety
  • Treatment recommendations
  • Medication referrals and management if needed
  • Referrals for future treatments (if necessary)

Other Trauma-related Difficulties and Disorders
Children and youth with histories of chronic traumatic exposures will frequently present with multiple difficulties and symptoms with or without traumatic stress symptoms. They often require a series of different treatments. One model that CYFTRR employs for these youth is Therapeutic Yoga, which has been shown to decrease moodiness and stress levels. We also offer a number of different psychotherapies when needed.

Not infrequently, children with a history of trauma experience psychiatric issues that pre-date their PTSD. In the initial evaluation and intake process, the Center's treatment staff are able to identify whether children have pre-existing psychiatric conditions that are more pressing than the recent trauma and provide the most appropriate intervention. For these children the Center provides medication management and sequence psychotherapy to focus in the most salient issues at the Child and Family Outpatient Clinic.

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To make an appointment, or inquire further about our services, please call: 215-829-5467.