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Counseling Services

Children's Advocacy Services provides comprehensive treatment services for victims of childhood trauma and their non-offending caregivers. Treatment types include individual and family psychotherapy for children and caregivers using a variety of methods (e.g. play therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, art therapy, family therapy). Services are provided by licensed clinical professionals and advanced graduate students under the direct supervision of licensed clinical staff.

As member of the National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network, Children's Advocacy Services staff are trained providers of research-supported "Best Practice" treaments for trauma including:

TF-CBT is designed for children and adolescents between the ages of 3-18. TF-CBT is designed to reduce the symptoms of trauma through: educating the child and parent about the effects of trauma, teaching skills for stress management, learning to work through difficult thoughts and feelings related to the trauma, and gradually working through memories of traumatic event(s). Sessions include individual time with the child, individual time with the caregiver, and joint sessions, where child and caregiver meet together with the therapist.
PCIT is a structured treatment approach aimed at helping children, ages 2 ½ -7, and their caregivers recover from trauma by improving their relationships and bonds. Therapists coach caregivers in relationship-building activities with their child that encourage improved cooperation and behavior.
ITCT (Integrated Therapy for Complex Trauma) is for children and adolescents (6 to 18-years-old), who have a history of multiple traumas, which has resulted in emotional and behavioral difficulties. ITCT is a flexible intervention designed to address specific needs through assessment and intervention in multiple formats (e.g. individual, group, family). ITCT addresses both attachment and trauma related symptoms by improving skills in distress tolerance, emotion regulation, impulse control, stress management, self-esteem, and social skills. Additionally, ITCT promotes resiliency by including the child’s existing social networks.
CPP (Child Parent Psychotherapy) is a treatment for trauma-exposed children age 0-5 and their caregivers. The treatment addresses how the trauma has impacted the child-caregiver relationship and the child’s development. A primary goal of the treatment is to support and strengthen the child-caregiver relationship in a effort to restore and protect the child’s mental health.
CFTSI (Child & Family Traumatic Stress Intervention) is an early intervention and prevention treatment to reduce traumatic stress in children age 7 to 18 years. It is a brief therapy model (5 to 7 sessions) which works with both the child and caregiver together and seeks to increase communication about and provide skills to master the child’s traumatic stress reactions.
An evidence-based intervention designed to improve the relationship between children and their caregivers by addressing individual and family problems. During AF-CBT, children and their caregivers participate in separate but coordinated therapy sessions as well as joint sessions at various times throughout treatment. For caregivers and their child, age 5-17, office-based.

CASGSL offers a range of therapeutic group programming for children and caregivers. Reviews of the group therapy literature suggest that group treatment is an efficacious and cost-effective approach; in fact, group therapy is the treatment of choice for certain types of problems. CASGSL clinicians have noted that group therapy appears especially effective in alleviating children’s and caregivers’ feelings of guilt and shame. In addition, the vicarious learning and interactive process that occurs in a group context enables participants to accelerate their understanding and application of problem-solving strategies and interpersonal skills.

Group programs are currently offered at CASGSL’s three locations as well as on-site at specific schools throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. All prospective group clients participate in an individual clinical assessment prior to beginning treatment. During these intake assessments, CASGSL clinicians will help children and families identify treatment priorities, utilize standardized assessment measures to obtain baseline data, and provide immediate support and education. To learn more about specific group treatment options, or to schedule a group intake assessment for one of the programs described below, please call CASGSL’s intake department at 314-516-6798.

This assessment and treatment program for Children with Sexual Behavior Problems (CSBP) serves families with children (ages 6-12) who have demonstrated sexual behavior problems. Examples of the problematic sexualized behaviors addressed through this program include children’s excessive masturbation, touching other children’s private parts, and exposing their private parts to others. Following a comprehensive assessment to determine treatment needs, children are funneled into a CSBP group based on their age. During the weekly group sessions, children learn skills in the areas of impulse control, affective expression, relaxation, empathy, and social skills. Caregivers attend a concurrent group where they receive education, behavior management training, and support. The CSBP program, developed by faculty at the University of Oklahoma Child Study Center, has been deemed efficacious by two clinical trials (Bonner, Walker, & Berliner, 1999). More information about sexual behavior problems in children and this effective treatment model may be found at http://www.ncsby.org.

This open-ended group treatment program is designed for adolescent males who have engaged in illegal sexual behavior. The curriculum, based on a cognitive-behavioral, psychoeducational approach, addresses issues such as taking responsibility for the behavior, cognitive restructuring, social skills, prevention of future illegal behavior, relationship skills, and victim awareness and empathy. A concurrent group for caregivers/parents is also offered. In addition to receiving support from one another and the therapists, the caregivers learn how to support the adolescents’ in their treatment, build stronger relationships with their children, and improve family functioning. For more information about this population and effective treatment for adolescents with illegal sexual behaviors, please see http://www.ncsby.org.

The Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) program is an empirically-supported group and individual trauma-focused intervention based in schools.  CBITS is proven to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and improve students’ school performance with diverse populations. CASGSL clinicians are currently implementing CBITS with students from 8 years old to 18 years old in St. Louis City Public Schools who have experienced a range of traumatic events including witnessing domestic or community violence, physical abuse, traumatic losses, and medical traumas. CBITS participants are individually assessed and screened to ensure the appropriateness of the model for each student.  Selected participants take part in ten weekly sessions based on the Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy model.  The students learn about common trauma symptoms, stress management techniques, cognitive restructuring, social problem solving, and participate in individual and group exposure sessions.  CASGSL clinicians collaborate with the students’ teachers, working to improve the students’ functioning in the classroom through reduction of trauma symptoms.

This 12-week educational and support group is available to caregivers of children who have experienced trauma.  Adapted from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network's (NCTSN) resource parent curriculum, TASK addresses the unique challenges faced by all caregivers (e.g. biological and step parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, and other adult family members) parenting a child following one or more traumatic events. >

Participants will increase their knowledge about how trauma can affect children emotionally, behaviorally, and developmentally, and learn trauma-informed parenting skills to appropriately respond to the behavioral and emotional challenges of traumatized children.  Each participant receives a participant handbook and engages in a combination of learning methods including lecture, group discussion, case vignettes, and exercises designed to assist caregivers in applying new concepts to their children.  Topics include understanding trauma's effects on children, dealing with feelings and behavior, enhancing children's sense of safety, ways to support a child’s recovery, effective advocacy, and self-care. 

TASK is recommended as a supplement to a child’s individual treatment and for caregivers wanting to better understand how a trauma has affected their child and how they can best support their child’s recovery.  Foster parents can earn up to fifteen hours of in-service training hours through their participation in TASK.