Trauma-Focused CBT for Traumatic Grief in Military Children
- 2.4k Downloads
Although military children are typically as resilient as the general child population, the ongoing conflict has exposed military children to unusual stressors such as repeated deployment, severe injury, or the death of a parent or sibling. U.S. forces have experienced more than 5,600 casualties during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, with growing numbers of suicides among Service members. These deaths have affected thousands of military children. Most bereaved military children experience adaptive grief characterized by deep sadness, longing for the deceased person, and being comforted by positive memories of the deceased. A smaller number of military children develop childhood traumatic grief, characterized by trauma symptoms that interfere with adaptive grieving. Children with traumatic grief get “stuck” on the traumatic aspects of the death such as picturing the imagined or real details of the death; imagining the pain their loved one experienced in the moments before dying; wishing for revenge; and becoming angry at those who do not understand or share the child’s thoughts and feelings about the death. These children avoid reminders of the deceased person. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) is an evidence-based treatment for children with trauma symptoms including those with traumatic grief. TF-CBT may be particularly suitable for military families. This article describes the clinical application of TF-CBT for traumatic grief in military children.
KeywordsTrauma Grief Military Children Cognitive-behavioral therapy
Funding for this project was provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Grant Number SM54319.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press. Text Revision.Google Scholar
- Cohen, J. A., & Mannarino, A. P. (2004). Treatment of childhood traumatic grief. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33, 820–832.Google Scholar
- Cohen, J. A., Mannarino, A. P., & Deblinger, E. (2006). Treating trauma and traumatic grief in children and adolescents. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Cohen, J. A., Mannarino, A. P., & Deblinger, E. (2010). Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for traumatized children. In J. R. Weisz & A. E. Kazdin (Eds.), Evidence-based psychotherapies for children and adolescents (pp. 295–311). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Cozza, S. J., Guimond, J. M., McKibben, J. B. A., Chun, R. S., Arata-Maiers, T. L., Schneider, B., et al. (2010). Combat-injured service members and their families: The relationship of child distress and spouse-perceived family distress and disruption. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 23, 112–115.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Searle, Y., & Streng, I. (1998). The grief game. London: Jessica Kingley Publishers.Google Scholar
- Wolfelt, A. D. (1996). Healing the bereaved child: grief gardening, growth through grief and other touchstones for caregivers. Fort Collins, CO: Companion.Google Scholar
- Worden, J. W. (1996). Children and grief: When a parent dies. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar