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Childhood experiences — both good and bad — can have a profound effect on the development of a person’s mental health. For the most part, children learn how to adapt to day-to-day setbacks and disappointments without any adverse psychological problems. But a child’s emotional well-being, and their future mental health, can be seriously jeopardized when they experience a traumatic event at an early age.

Judith Cohen, MD, Anthony Mannarino, PhD, and other psychiatric researchers at ASRI are continuing to develop an interventional model for children who have experienced Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TFCBT) is proving to be highly effective for children who have experienced sexual or physical abuse; the traumatic loss of a loved one; or domestic, school or community violence. TF-CBT encourages and helps children to talk directly about their experiences in an environment where they can become less fearful, less avoidant and more able to tolerate trauma-related thoughts and feelings.

To make this intervention more accessible to mental health professionals, ASRI has teamed up with the Medical University of South Carolina to develop a Web-based training course called TFCBT Web. To date, over 21,000 mental health professionals from around the world have completed this course and are using this intervention to help children resolve PTSD, as well as depressive and anxiety symptoms.

Recently, ASRI researchers have also added CTGWeb (Childhood Traumatic Grief) — a companion Internet-based course for clinicians who treat children who have experienced a homicide, suicide or other traumatic loss of life. Additionally, Drs. Cohen and Mannarino are collaborating with the Medical University of South Carolina and other professional colleagues in the development of TF-CBTWebConsult. This Web site will be available to professionals who have completed TF-CBTWeb and will provide information regarding challenging clinical questions, such as how to implement the trauma narrative component of TF-CBT with very young children.

“These Web-based training tools have allowed many more children to receive effective interventions and to heal from the potentially negative impact of trauma and traumatic death,” said Dr. Cohen. “We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to help so many more families through these products.”

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