HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Implementing trauma-focused CBT for children of veterans in the VA: Providing comprehensive services to veterans and their families

October, 2018
Article:

This paper explores trauma-focused CBT services provided to veterans and their families.

Abstract

Military families experience unique stressful circumstances such as frequent moves, service-related physical and mental health difficulties, and separation from support. Although many families exhibit high resilience in response to these stressors, military children are at an increased risk for emotional and behavioral difficulties, exposure to intimate partner violence, and child maltreatment. These potential problems not only affect child functioning, but often also negatively impact family and veteran outcomes. Although the Department of Defense has enhanced efforts to address child and family trauma among military families, many veterans’ families are still not receiving timely, evidence-based treatment. With many veterans receiving care through Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers, incorporating family treatment into VA services is important for promoting optimal veteran outcomes. Trauma-focused cognitive–behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) has been used successfully for civilian and military children exposed to trauma including child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, and traumatic grief. This article reviews research regarding veterans’ mental health, child and family functioning, and parenting, and highlights the value of implementing TF-CBT in the VA given its family and-resilience-focused structure, strong empirical support, and flexible delivery model. Strengths of delivering TF-CBT in the VA (e.g., provision of trauma services for families where veterans are already receiving care, family education about trauma), as well as implementation barriers (e.g., VA policy regarding veteran-focused treatment, reduced facility resources) are discussed. Finally, future research directions are proposed, including mixed- methods research with veterans’ families to investigate the effectiveness and feasibility of TF-CBT dissemination within VA facilities.

Full Reference

Ridings, L. E., Moreland, A. D., Petty, K. H. and Johnson, R. H., 2019. Implementing Trauma-Focused CBT for Children of Veterans in the VA: Providing Comprehensive Services to Veterans and Their Families. Psychological Services, 16(1), pp. 75-84.

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