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Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma

The Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma (CCCT) is designed to raise the standard of care nationwide for youth and families who have experienced trauma by raising the standard of education and training in core principles of childhood traumatic stress for their care providers.

A major initiative undertaken by the UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCCTS) and its partners in the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the CCCT is being implemented across the US in settings that include community-based mental health centers; teaching hospitals; graduate schools; terminal undergraduate programs; and internship, residency, and post-doctoral training programs. Many sites that have adopted the CCCT implement it in conjunction with training on manualized interventions.

The CCCT is an experiential learning tool that engages learners in a small-group setting to discuss and reason their way through detailed case studies. The Curriculum uses a highly interactive problem-based approach to help learners acquire trauma-informed knowledge and skills in critical reasoning, judgment, and decision-making. Instead of scripted lessons, the Curriculum contains a variety of elements designed to be flexibly incorporated by trained facilitators to achieve specific learning objectives.

Basic elements of the CCCT include:

  • Six General Learning Objectives provide a basic framework that encompasses and supports all Core Curriculum elements. This feature provides learning facilitators with great flexibility in selecting from a wide variety of case vignettes, structured exercises, and assessment tools while staying aligned with the General Learning Objectives. 
  • The 12 Core Concepts for Understanding Traumatic Stress Responses in Children and Families serve as the Curriculum’s primary conceptual framework for organizing foundational knowledge about trauma-informed care.
  • Problem-Based Learning (“PBL”), an instructional method in which learners work in small groups, under the guidance of a trained facilitator, to explore multiple perspectives and find solutions to complex problems described in case studies. In its basic form, the CCCT uses a four-step PBL process comprised of Facts, Hunches and Hypotheses, Next Steps, and Learning Issues.
  • Detailed case studies that feature a range of different types of childhood trauma. These case studies unfold in sections and are written to help learners understand what it is like to live through a traumatic experience and its aftermath from a child’s perspective. The variety of case studies available allows PBL facilitators to flexibly adapt the Core Curriculum for a broad range of different training-related audiences, needs, and settings.
  • Instructional tools that facilitators can flexibly use as learning tools, or to assess learner progress, throughout the learning process.

For a more detailed overview and introduction to the Core Curriculum, click here. For answers to frequently asked questions about the Core Curriculum, click here. To access a series of online interactive lessons explaining the Core Concepts in greater detail, and other materials on the CCCT, visit the NCTSN Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma. To access a Core Curriculum case vignette (Ella) that the Core Curriculum Interactive Learning Group adapted to teach learners how to use the 12 Core Concepts as lenses to critically reason through a case study, click here