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April 20th

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Providing effective trauma therapy for children


As statewide clinical director for Upbring, it was great news to learn that the second paper in our white paper series tackles the topic of nontraditional trauma therapies for youth. Many nontraditional therapies are available to children in Texas, such as horseback-riding therapy, music or art therapy, but it is not always clear if – or how – they actually help heal trauma.

We have evidenced some wonderful outcomes from animal therapy at Upbring New Life Children’s Center, where so many girls have thrived on their interactions and caretaking responsibilities with the menagerie in the Serenity Barn. Knowing foster and adopted youth who seem to have benefitted from these nontraditional approaches, we also know that researchers are still accruing evidence on these promising practices.

NL girl horse NewLifeBunnies

To that end, Upbring is releasing its second white paper in an ongoing series that share ideas from top child abuse researchers around the country on how to protect Texas children and help them heal. This paper is a review of what scientific evidence exists for various nontraditional trauma therapies for youth.

Promising studies—much more to learn

Many studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of therapies such as Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR), equine-assisted psychotherapy, canine-assisted psychotherapy, music therapy, art therapy, dance therapy, and adventure therapy. However, not all of these were conducted using best practices in randomized controlled trials, and not all have been tested on trauma-exposed youth.

This important review of evidence will help practitioners and policymakers decide where to allocate resources to best serve trauma-exposed children and children in the child welfare system. Upbring is fully committed to providing effective trauma therapies to children in our care, such as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, as well as keeping an eye open for new promising and evidence-based practices to help the children in our care heal from trauma.

Congratulations to one of the lead authors of this paper, Brian Allen, PsyD, from Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children, for being one of a handful of researchers selected from across the country to participate in the prestigious NDACAN Summer Research Institute at Cornell this summer – where researchers apply to have the opportunity to work directly with data from the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN).

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