About TF-CBT

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT) is a mental health treatment model designed for children ages 3- 18 who are experiencing difficulties after trauma exposure such as sexual abuse, exposure to violence, or a natural disaster. TF-CBT was developed by Judy Cohen, M.D., Anthony Mannarino, Ph.D. and Esther Deblinger, Ph.D.

TF-CBT is an evidenced-based intervention that is a SAMHSA best practice in the treatment of childhood posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Features of TF-CBT:

  • Treatment is short-term. On average, TF-CBT is completed over 18-24 weekly sessions.
  • TF-CBT is skills–based. Families are taught many skills in sessions, such as relaxation, to reduce trauma-related distress. In order for treatment to be effective, therapists will also ask children and caregivers to practice and use these skills at home and other places where stress may occur.
  • TF-CBT involves the family. Caregivers are actively included in treatment with their child and are key to successful outcomes. Typically, therapists in each TF-CBT session will spend individual time with the child, check in separately with the caregiver, and include combined family time. However, when a child does not have a caregiver who can be involved in treatment, TF-CBT treatment can still be effective in reducing childhood trauma symptoms.
  • Sessions will be structured. TF-CBT therapists will have a planned focus for each session to cover skills and activities known to be important for reducing distress related to trauma.
  • Treatment will be engaging to the family! TF-CBT therapists will strive to be creative and tailor activities to engage children and provide an enjoyable and safe treatment experience.


The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) is any situation in which someone under the age of 18 performs a sex act or is otherwise sexually exploited and something of value, financial or otherwise, is exchanged. This may include, but is not limited to, situations in which someone else (an exploiter or “pimp”) benefits from this exchange. (WCSAP, 2010).

Key points in this definition are:

  • The exchange of something of value. This is not limited to strictly cash transactions. It may include goods or services, such as food or a place to stay (“Survival sex”), in exchange for drugs or for someone else to receive drugs.
  • Possible inclusion of a third party. Money or other “things of value” may not be received directly by the exploited child or retained by the child. The transaction may be brokered by, or the money transferred to, someone else (e.g., “pimp”).
  • Sexual exploitation is not limited to overt sexual acts. It may include pornography, stripping, etc.

Other related terms that are sometimes used include “Sex Trafficking,” “Child Sex Trafficking,” and “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.” The Federal government, defines “Sex Trafficking” as “recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion…or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age” (That is, when the victim is under 18, force, fraud, or coercion need not be present or proven for the commercial sex act to constitute sex trafficking). “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking” (DMST) refers specifically to the sex trafficking of American children within the United States.