TGCTA and Think Trauma: An Integrated Curriculum for Service Providers to At-Risk and Juvenile Justice-Involved Youth

Think Trauma: A training Curriculum for Staff in Juvenile Justice and Residential Settings is a modularized, skills-based, interactive, trauma-informed training curriculum for staff who directly work with youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. The presentation contains four 60-90 minute modules that address the following general topics: 1) the relationship between trauma and delinquency; 2) the impact of traumatic stress on development; 3) survival coping strategies; and 4) organizational stress and vicarious trauma. The curriculum takes the participants on an exploratory journey of a youth's life. There are six case vignettes, and each subgroup of six participants is assigned to one youth. Each subgroup member is given some information about the youth, and the team will have to work together to identify the youth's traumas, trauma reminders, traumatic reactions, and their developmental impact in order to develop a safety plan that includes coping strategies.

Trauma and Grief Component Therapy for Adolescents (TGCTA) is an evidence-based group treatment program designed to reduce posttraumatic emotional and behavioral reactivity while improving pro-social skills and citizenship in adolescents exposed to multiple forms of trauma (e.g. community violence, family violence, child abuse), and loss (e.g. death of family or loved ones). Studies have shown that youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems are at particular risk for both trauma- and grief-related difficulties. The modular design of this program enables it to be customized for the needs of specific groups. The newly revised grief treatment module is aligned with forthcoming DSM-V definitions of Bereavement-Related Disorder and Traumatic Death. The training will provide instruction on the theory and research underlying the treatment model and then devote the bulk of the time to hands-on demonstration and practice of the core components and interventions. Break-out sessions will focus on adaptation of the program to specific populations and concrete steps to implement the program at each site.

Integrated Approach: Clinical and youth care staff in facilities from several states who implemented this integrated curriculum in a 2012 NCTSN Learning Collaborative indicated that TGCTA and Think Trauma together provided them with solid tools to help youth who are behaviorally and emotionally out of control and thus increased job satisfaction. Staff and clinicians reported an improved sense of competence in their jobs and a greater sense of safety while working to help these incarcerated, polyvictimized adolescents. They were also pleased about reduced overtime, because fewer youth who took part in this intervention were placed on suicide status or seclusion due to risk of violence.