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Childhood Traumatic Grief is a condition in which children develop significant trauma symptoms related to the death of an attachment figure (e.g., parent or sibling) or another important person (e.g., grandparent, other relative, friend or peer). These trauma symptoms interfere with the child’s ability to accomplish the tasks of bereavement. Effective interventions are available to resolve children’s trauma symptoms and problematic grief responses.

Selection Criteria

Effective interventions for Childhood Traumatic Grief are selected for inclusion using the following criteria:

  • The intervention has been tested for youth with Childhood Traumatic Grief in at least one randomized controlled treatment study and shown to significantly improve children’s trauma and problematic grief symptoms using standardized research methodology;
  • The intervention is well described in a standardized treatment manual or book; therapist training and fidelity instrument are available; and
  • Valid, reliable and developmentally appropriate assessment instruments were used for assessing outcomes

In addition to the Effective Interventions listed below that meet these selection criteria, other interventions are likely effective for treating Childhood Traumatic Grief, but have not specifically been tested for this condition. These include models that have specific descriptions of how to apply the intervention for Childhood Traumatic Grief such as Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), and/or that have been implemented specifically for children with Traumatic Grief such as Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI) and Cognitive Behavioral Interventions for Trauma in Schools (CBITS).

Childhood Traumatic Separation

Traumatic Separation is a condition in which children develop trauma symptoms related to familial separation from parents or other primary attachment figures (e.g., siblings, grandparents, etc.). The separation may be temporary ( e.g., following parental immigration, incarceration, or child’s placement in foster care) or permanent (e.g., following termination of parental rights). Although no empirical studies have specifically studied efficacy of any intervention for children with Traumatic Separation, there are strong theoretical reasons to believe that effective interventions for Childhood Traumatic Grief will also be helpful for these children. Specifically, children with Traumatic Separation develop both trauma symptoms and symptoms related to the loss of their primary attachment figure(s). Childhood Traumatic Grief interventions include components to address both trauma and loss, and grief-focused components can be modified and applied to the temporary loss of separation rather than the permanent loss of grief.

Effective Interventions for Childhood Traumatic Grief

The following interventions are effective for Childhood Traumatic Grief:

Trauma and Grief Component Therapy for Adolescents

Individual, Group

TGCT-A is a manualized group or individual treatment program for trauma-exposed or traumatically bereaved older children and adolescents that may be implemented in school, community mental health, clinic, or other service settings.