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What is TBRI?

Trauma can have many different faces and its symptoms can show themselves in different ways. For vulnerable children, complex developmental trauma is life changing and can have negative effects on their child development. However, there are many proactive strategies for dealing with these and treating fear based behaviors. Trust-based relational intervention, or TBRI, is a great example of one of these engagement strategies.

Trust-based relational intervention (TBRI) is a form of integrated therapy that encourages the growth of bonds and resilience of relationships within a family unit. Compared to other therapeutic models, trust-based intervention draws from a wide variety of strategies and techniques to achieve its goals. While practitioners face many unique challenges when working with clients from different difficult backgrounds, they also enjoy the opportunity to play a pivotal role in the life-defining obstacle of helping children form a functional and healthy attachment to their parents or caregivers.

Target Recipients and Applications

The principles and objectives of TBRI revolve around guiding children under the age of 18 towards a normal developmental track following traumatic or life-changing events. Experts believe that trauma informed intervention and treatment are the best way to allow a child to heal and disarm fear based behaviors regardless of their age or background. Target recipients of therapy are usually parents or caregivers of newly adopted children. This kind of intervention is primarily designed for children who struggle to form social or parental bonds due to prior abuse, neglect or an unstable domestic life. Therapy may also have benefits for restoring bonds between biological parents and children following a traumatic life event.

Personalized Assessment and Treatment

Much like other forms of direct therapy and counseling, trust-based relational intervention is founded on the connecting principles that the needs of the patient come first. Therapists have to account for the child’s specific past experiences and understand how they impact their current state of mind. The patient’s age and current family situation also help determine the type and scope of appropriate therapy options. In many cases, non-conventional methods for dealing with troubling behaviors can produce better results for kids struggling with family attachments. 

TBRI Being Practiced in Person

Trusted based relational intervention is one of the more practical tools when it comes to the complex needs of foster children and adopted children. It allows them to form healthy relationships with their foster parents, adoptive parents, biological parents and other important people in their lives. Trust based relational intervention is often practiced in:

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  • Orphanages 
  • Courts
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Group homes
  • Foster homes
  • Adoptive homes
  • Churches
  • Schools

Objectives of Trust-Based Intervention

The empowering principles of this kind of therapy are to help both children and their parents or caregivers establish a healthy, trusting relationship. These bonds are essential for creating a structured environment that allows for discipline and communication without provoking troubling behaviors. Many children with disrupted family lives present behavioral or developmental disorders that can cripple their social life and school performance. Trust based relational intervention is designed to help kids overcome these issues by processing their experiences in a healthy way through very responsive strategies.

Parent Education and Therapy Structure

In many cases, trust-based therapy is geared as much for parents or caregivers as it is for children. It’s up to the family to create a physically and psychologically safe environment in the home and become more aware of the child’s emotional state. Parental TBRI education can cover a wide range of needs and strategies, including guidance on structuring interactions, tips for communicating effectively and other therapy basics, according to the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare. Programs often center around the principles of connection, empowerment, and correction, which describe different levels of interaction that are necessary for healthy family life and child development.

The Path to a Healthy and Happy Life

The field of practical psychology has blossomed over the last few decades, spawning a number of specialized disciplines tailored to specific public needs. Trust based relational intervention TBRI is just one of the many types of specialized therapy that has the potential to create a lasting, positive impact on families around the world.


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