Objective: Involving caregivers in trauma-focused treatments for youth has been shown to result in better outcomes, but it is not clear which in-session caregiver behaviors enhance or inhibit this effect. The current study examined the associations between caregiver behaviors during Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and youth cognitive processes and symptoms. Method: Participants were a racially diverse sample of Medicaid-eligible youth (ages 7-17) and their nonoffending caregivers (N-71 pairs) who received TF-CBT through an effectiveness study in a community setting. Caregiver and youth processes were coded from audio-recorded sessions, and outcomes were measured using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and UCLA PTSD Reaction Index for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (DSM-IV; UPID) at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months postintake. Results: Piecewise linear growth curve modeling revealed that during the trauma narrative phase of TF-CBT, caregivers' cognitive-emotional processing of their own and their child's trauma-related reactions predicted decreases in youth internalizing and externalizing symptoms over treatment. Caregiver support predicted lower internalizing symptoms over follow-up. In contrast, caregiver avoidance and blame of the child predicted worsening of youth internalizing and externalizing symptoms over follow-up. Caregiver avoidance early in treatment also predicted worsening of externalizing symptoms over follow-up. During the narrative phase, caregiver blame and avoidance were correlated with more child overgeneralization of trauma beliefs, and blame was also associated with less child accommodation of balanced beliefs. Conclusions: The association between in-session caregiver behaviors and youth symptomatology during and after TF-CBT highlights the importance of assessing and targeting these behaviors to improve clinical outcomes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health