Starting Point Program Helps Kids Affected By Trauma
Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Health Therapy (TFCBT) is a new program launched at Starting Point this year. It focuses on children ages 3 to 18, and their caregivers, by helping them to overcome traumatic events.
Many children experience trauma including death of a family member, violence, abuse, accidents or other incidents that impact them psychologically. Through the TFCBT program, these children meet with specially-trained counselors somewhere between a dozen and 20 times to focus on normalizing their feelings and learning to cope with them. Counselors meet separately with parents or caregivers to help them understand what the child is feeling and how to cope with any behaviors resulting from the trauma.
The end result of the therapy is a “Trauma Narrative,” a story about what happened put together by the child. Depending on the age of the child, this story might be in pictures, narrated verbally, or written. The narrative helps the child and the parent understand the before, during and after of the traumatic incident from the child’s point of view.
“Eighty percent of the symptoms decrease after the therapy,” said Theresa Stover, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Team Leader at Starting Point. “The goal is to prevent kids from future issues like addiction or becoming sex workers. We deal with the feelings now so they don’t fester and become a problem later.”
She says parents can sometimes have a difficult time hearing about the trauma their child has experienced. The therapy and the narrative “prepares them and helps them know how to respond and comfort the child,” she said.
Stover is Nationally Certified for the program and there are currently four additional counselors at Starting Point that have been trained in using the therapy. The program was funded by a two-year grant from Lutheran Services Florida.
Most of the children in the program are referred by Family Support Services in Nassau, but Starting Point also works with other child welfare agencies.
“Typically, the family has had the kids removed and are now in Family Support Services,” Stover said. “Our goal is family reunification by helping to improve positive parenting interaction.”