Implementation of an evidence-based trauma-focused treatment for traumatised children and their families during the war in Ukraine: a project description

Elisa Pfeiffer, Renée Beer, Anette Birgersson, Natalie Cabrera, Judith A. Cohen, Esther Deblinger, Maike Garbade, Veronica Kirsch, Zlatina Kostova, Michael Larsson, Anthony Mannarino, Gavin Moffitt, Marja Onsjö, Tale Ostensjo, Cedric Sachser, Anna Vikgren, Hanna Weyler Mueller, Vitaii Klymchuk

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022 led to an increase of traumatic events and mental health burden in the Ukrainian general population. The (ongoing) traumatisation can have a crucial impact on children and adolescents as they are especially vulnerable for developing trauma-related disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Depression. To date, these children have only very limited access to trauma-focused evidence-based treatments (EBTs) by trained mental health specialists in Ukraine. The fast and effective implementation of these treatments in Ukraine is crucial to improve the psychological wellbeing of this vulnerable population. This letter to the editor describes an ongoing project which implements a trauma-focused EBT called ‘Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’ (TF-CBT) in Ukraine during the war. In collaboration with Ukrainian and international agencies, the project ‘TF-CBT Ukraine’ was developed and implemented starting in March 2022. The project entails a large training programme for Ukrainian mental health specialists and the implementation of TF-CBT with children and their families in and from Ukraine. All components of the project are scientifically evaluated on a patient and therapist level, cross-sectionally and longitudinally, in a mixed-methods design. All together nine training cohorts with N = 133 Ukrainian therapists started the programme, all monthly case consultations (15 groups) and treatments of patients are still ongoing. Lessons learnt from this first large-scale implementation project on an EBT for children and adolescents impacted by trauma in Ukraine will help inform the field on challenges and also possibilities to expand such efforts. On a broader level, this project could be one small step in the process of helping children overcome the negative effects and experience resilience in the context of a war-torn nation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2207422
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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