Youth trauma narratives: meaning-making throughout trauma-focused CBT


Youngsters and younger folks which have been via a number of traumatic experiences can expertise excessive ranges of post-traumatic stress signs (PTSS). One of the crucial efficient trauma-focused therapies (de Arellano et al. 2014; Lewey et al., 2018) is Trauma-Centered Cognitive Behavioural Remedy (TF-CBT). TF-CBT is the NICE advisable therapy for youngsters experiencing PTSS (NICE, 2018) and the optimistic results have been discovered to be maintained at follow-up (Jensen, Holt, & Ormhaug, 2017).

A key a part of the TF-CBT therapy is the creation of a trauma narrative, the place sufferers discuss via their experiences repeatedly and affiliate ideas and emotions with occasions in a type of ‘gradual publicity’. That is adopted by a interval of processing cognitive distortions, misappraisals, and feelings (Ascienzo, Sprang, & Royse, 2022).

In line with the present examine’s authors, earlier analysis on trauma narration has occurred ‘exterior a therapy context’ and targeted extra on the relation between PTSS and trauma narratives (Ascienzo, Sprang, & Royse, 2022). This examine as an alternative aimed to have a look at how, throughout these narratives, younger folks interpret and create that means from their experiences, and the merchandise of this that means making. The authors investigated the next analysis questions:

  • How do youth appraise and make that means of their traumatic experiences?
  • What merchandise of the meaning-making are evident within the youth trauma narratives?
This study looked at how young people create meaning of their experiences during trauma narration, and the products of this meaning making.

This examine checked out how younger folks create that means of their experiences throughout trauma narration, and the merchandise of this meaning-making.


Youngsters and younger folks aged 7 and above have been recruited from a US trauma therapy clinic. Youngsters have been eligible to take part if that they had obtained TF-CBT (Trauma-Centered Cognitive Behavioural Remedy) and accomplished a trauma narrative as a part of therapy. The ultimate, accomplished variations of individuals’ trauma narratives have been analysed on this examine.

Members will need to have skilled a number of types of baby mistreatment inside a caregiving relationship, and not less than one placement disruption, to make sure findings have been consultant of the everyday youth on the clinic. Caregivers gave consent and individuals assented to take part.

This examine used thematic evaluation (Braun & Clarke, 2006) to discover the trauma narratives. The authors defined their alternative of thematic evaluation was to deal with the ‘essence’ of the youth narratives, and felt thematic evaluation allowed for individuals’ social context to be thought-about; essential for meaning-making and its merchandise.


16 youths participated within the examine, eight males, starting from 8-16 years previous (imply 13.25). Members skilled continual baby maltreatment, (imply 5.38 differing types), resembling bodily/psychological/sexual abuse, home violence, and neglect. All had skilled maltreatment from a main caregiver and had previous/present baby welfare involvement.

That means-making of traumatic experiences

For teens’ meaning-making of traumatic experiences (RQ1), 4 themes have been recognized:

1. I Am Not Protected

Lack of security was felt by all youths. This included lack of bodily security, resembling bodily abuse or impaired caregiving attributable to substance misuse, and lack of psychological security, together with emotions of concern and powerlessness.

2. It’s My Fault: Misattributions of duty

Members recognized a way of duty, divided into three subthemes. First, individuals felt duty for the maltreatment and elimination from care, believing it a results of their behaviour.

Members additionally mentioned duty to defend and care for folks, for instance when their organic mom was a sufferer of interpersonal violence, and had ongoing issues about mother and father’ security with blended feelings about leaving.

Members additionally felt they needed to defend their siblings (particularly youthful), and mentioned a need to guard but additionally resentment, guilt, and anger round having to take action.

3. I Am Modified

All individuals talked about the adverse affect of their trauma on their sense of self, relationships, and their world view. This got here underneath three subthemes: problem trusting others, adverse cognitions associated to self (for instance ‘I used to be dangerous’), and sophisticated feelings associated to self, (together with disappointment, loss, disgrace, and guilt).

4. Why Did This Occur to Me?

One of the crucial outstanding themes, this described individuals makes an attempt to make sense and that means out of their experiences. All individuals struggled with cognitive dissonance concerning their attachment to their offending caregivers, and their mistreatment, and this was related to conflicting feelings.

That means-making in youth trauma narratives

For merchandise of the meaning-making in youth trauma narratives (RQ2), the authors recognized three themes:

1. Now I Know: Reappraisals

All 16 individuals confirmed proof of reappraisals, largely round blame and duty. For instance, ‘I don’t really feel nugatory anymore. I do know the abuse wasn’t my fault’.

2. I Am Protected/r: Improved Sense of Security

All 16 individuals talked about a rise of their sense of security, with each youths who did and didn’t need to return to dwelling with their offending caregivers.

3. I Can Do This: Perceptions of Progress

All individuals spoke about their progress and modifications over the course of therapy, together with expressing and managing feelings, coping abilities, their experiences not defining them, fewer issues about their future behaviour as mother and father/companions, and contemplating professions involving serving to others.

Young people struggled with the cognitive dissonance associated with an attachment to their abusive caregiver, and their mistreatment.

Younger folks struggled with the cognitive dissonance related to an attachment to their abusive caregiver, and their mistreatment.



This examine highlights and gives a deeper understanding of youths’ experiences of making trauma narratives throughout TF-CBT therapy, their meaning-making course of, and the merchandise of this course of.

This study provides a deep understanding of youth’s experiences of meaning making during trauma narration, and the products of this.

This examine gives a deep understanding of youth’s experiences of that means making throughout trauma narration, and the merchandise of this.

Strengths and limitations

This examine was the primary to deal with youths’ meaning-making course of, and merchandise of this, of their TF-CBT (Trauma-Centered Cognitive Behavioural Remedy) trauma narratives. The examine methodology was sound, and the authors ensured the pattern recruited represented the everyday trauma clinic affected person, thus making the outcomes related to this inhabitants. The authors use of thematic evaluation (slightly than earlier research’ use of narrative evaluation) was properly rationalised, and their course of clearly outlined, together with further steps such because the scrutiny methods of repetition and similarities and variations (Ryan & Bernard, 2003). The deal with advanced trauma prevented single-incident trauma narratives probably conflating or diluting themes, and the pattern was not restricted by presentation, which allowed for quite a lot of experiences to be captured.

As said by the authors, nonetheless, the pattern dimension was small, and solely from one trauma clinic within the US, making the outcomes unlikely to be generalisable (though this isn’t the main target of qualitative analysis). The authors additionally point out that the trauma narratives have been collected retrospectively and subsequently could have missed some in-session particulars that would have knowledgeable the themes additional.

Curiously, all individuals appeared to have efficiently accomplished TF-CBT and confirmed proof of change/restoration within the themes. While an entire trauma narrative was a requirement to be included on this examine, I ponder if the truth that all individuals have been profitable in altering their cognitive distortions, for instance, gave a positively skewed story of TF-CBT on this occasion, and whether or not inclusion of individuals who had struggled to alter their cognitions (regardless of finishing TF-CBT on paper) would possibly present much more perception.

Trauma narratives were collected retrospectively in this study, which may have missed details important to the youths’ processing experience.

Trauma narratives have been collected retrospectively on this examine, which can have missed particulars essential to the youths’ processing expertise.

Implications for observe

As said by the authors, this examine has a number of medical implications, notably for clinicians utilizing TF-CBT and the way this could inform their observe inside therapy. The researchers recommend that taking note of younger folks’s meaning-making may also help to know when to maneuver to the following stage of therapy, and if clinicians immediate this type of processing, this may also help to determine cognitive distortions that must be focused.

By way of analysis implications, additional analysis evaluating those that have efficiently accomplished TF-CBT, those that tried however didn’t full TF-CBT, and those that didn’t have therapy in any respect, could assist to supply additional perception. I might even be fascinated with follow-up research, to see if these reappraisals, meaning-making and merchandise are maintained over time. Additional analysis may additionally replicate this analysis in numerous geographical places and cultures, to see if this alters themes. For me, I’m glad that analysis is shifting to pay extra consideration to younger folks’s private views and interpretations, and I welcome additional analysis into this space.

This research impacts how clinicians work with patients during TF-CBT, particularly how they identify when patients are ready to progress to the next stage of treatment.

This analysis impacts how clinicians work with sufferers throughout TF-CBT, notably how they determine when sufferers are able to progress to the following stage of therapy.

Assertion of pursuits



Main paper

Ascienzo, S., Sprang, G., and Royse, D. (2022). “My Dangerous Experiences Are Not The Solely Issues Shaping Me Anymore”: Thematic Evaluation of Youth Trauma Narratives. Journal of Little one & Adolescent Trauma, 15, 741-753.

Different references

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Utilizing thematic evaluation in psychology. Qualitative Analysis in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.

de Arellano, M. A. R., Lyman, D. R., Jobe-Shields, L., George, P., Dougherty, R. H., Daniels, A. S., & Delphin-Rittmon, M. E. (2014). Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral remedy for youngsters and adolescents: Assessing the proof. Psychiatric Companies, 65(5), 591–602.

Jensen, T.Ok., Holt, T. & Ormhaug, S.M. (2017). A Comply with-Up Examine from a Multisite, Randomized Managed Trial for Traumatized Youngsters Receiving TF-CBT. Journal of Irregular Little one Psychology, 45, 1587–1597.

Lewey, J.H., Smith, C.L., Burcham, B., Saunders, N.L., Elfallal, D., and O’Toole, S.Ok. (2018). Evaluating the Effectiveness of EMDR and TF-CBT for Youngsters and Adolescents: A Meta-Evaluation. Journal of Little one and Adolescent Trauma, 11, 457–472.

Nationwide Institute for Well being and Care Excellence (NICE). (2018). Submit-traumatic stress dysfunction: therapy for youngsters and younger folks.

Ryan, G. W., & Bernard, H. R. (2003). Strategies to determine themes. Area. Strategies, 15(1), 85–109.

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