Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures


Addressing Trauma and Grief in Adolescence: New Models, Measures, and Interventions

Event Title

32nd Annual Meeting of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Event Location

Dallas, Texas, USA

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Presentation Date


Date Range

2016-11-10 to 2016-11-16


Converging developments in basic and applied research suggest that posttraumatic stress and grief reactions are related yet different entities that call for different assessment measures and intervention components. Further, trauma and bereavement often co-occur, especially among adolescents— an age group at highest risk for exposure to violent crime, traumatic injury, and traumatic death. This PMI will cover recent advances in the treatment of the effects of trauma and bereavement in adolescence, including an evidence-based intervention for traumatized and bereaved adolescents— Trauma and Grief Component Therapy for Adolescents (TGCT-A). TGCT-A is an assessment-driven, modularized intervention that can be flexibly tailored according to the exposure histories, needs, strengths, and life circumstances of specific groups and individuals. We will begin with an overview of the developmental tasks, capacities, and needs of adolescents, and the window of opportunity offered by adolescence for intervention. We will then discuss recent advances in conceptualizing, assessing, and treating the interplay between trauma and bereavement as viewed through the lens of multidimensional grief theory. We will then present findings from domestic and international open field trials, qualitative studies, and a large-scale randomized controlled field trial, which show consistent evidence of the effectiveness of TGCT-A in reducing posttraumatic stress and maladaptive grief reactions, and improving academic performance, peer relationships, and pro-social behaviors. We will then discuss how TGCT-A components, paired with properly designed assessment measures, can be tailored to provide universal (broad-spectrum), targeted (specialized), and preventive (resilience-enhancing) services in school, juvenile justice, and child welfare settings. We illustrate methods for providing state-of-the-art treatment for posttraumatic stress and grief reactions to vulnerable adolescents with complex histories of trauma and loss in ways that abide by public health principles—including identifying high-risk groups, stratifying groups by exposure severity and type of need, and improving access to services. Given its utility for juvenile justice, we will review a recently published multi-year evaluation of TGCT-A paired with trauma-informed staff training (Think Trauma) at six residential facilities, which found significant pre-post reductions in posttraumatic stress, depression and anger symptoms, seclusions, and restraints. We will conclude with demonstrations of ways to use TGCT-A’s modularized design to customize intervention for either groups or individuals with different assessment profiles, as well as discussion of next steps in research and program dissemination.


Pre-Meeting Institutes.