FCT Trauma Treatment

Trauma includes physical, sexual and institutional abuse, neglect, intergenerational trauma, and disasters that induce powerlessness, fear, recurrent hopelessness, and a constant state of alert. Trauma impacts one's spirituality and relationships with self, others, communities and environment, often resulting in recurring feelings of shame, guilt, rage, isolation, and disconnection. Healing is possible.

Although exact prevalence estimates vary, there is a consensus in the field that most consumers of mental health services have experienced a trauma event and that their trauma experiences help shape their responses to outreach and services. Likewise, some form of systemic trauma to one or more individuals has been identified in >70% of referred FCT cases.

When a human service program takes the step to become trauma-informed, every part of its organization, management, and service delivery system is assessed and potentially modified to include a basic understanding of how trauma affects the life of an individual seeking services. Trauma-informed organizations, programs, and services are based on an understanding of the vulnerabilities or triggers of trauma survivors that traditional service delivery approaches may exacerbate, so that these services and programs can be more supportive and avoid re-traumatization.

National Child Trauma Stress Network (NCTSN)

FCT Foundation is a proud Network Member of the NCTSN

In 2018, The Family Centered Treatment Foundation (FCTF) was awarded a 5-year federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant to become a NCTSN Network Member. This award identifies FCT as a recognized trauma treatment practice and provides funding to increase the distribution of Certified FCT trained therapists and outreach of the FCT model to additional sites and geographical locations across the US. Additionally, the award and recognition of FCTF as a Category II Network Member, provides an opportunity for FCTF to participate in national outreach and awareness campaigns that explore the capacity to train therapists around FCT Trauma components and assist in developing best practices in the field of individual and family trauma with leading experts across the country.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was created by Congress in 2000 as part of the Children’s Health Act to raise the standard of care and increase access to services for children and families who experience or witness traumatic events. This unique network of front-line providers, family members, researchers, and national partners is committed to changing the course of children’s lives by improving their care and moving scientific gains quickly into practice across the U.S. The NCTSN is administered by the and coordinated by the UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCCTS).

What are Trauma-Specific Interventions?

FCT Trauma-specific interventions are designed specifically to address the consequences of trauma in the individual and to facilitate healing. Treatment programs generally recognize the following:

  • The survivor's need to be respected, informed, connected, and hopeful regarding their own recovery

  • The interrelation between trauma and symptoms of trauma (e.g., substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety)

  • The need to work in a collaborative way with survivors, family and friends of the survivor, and other human services agencies in a manner that will empower survivors and consumers

Taking Trauma Treatment out of the office and into the home for multi-generational usage; FCT trauma components for the whole family

FCT is effective in working with families with experiences of multiple primary trauma types: exposure of victims of violence, neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse, abandonment, losses, complex trauma and domestic violence. Included are families with the effects of multiple placements including adoption disruption.  Families with secondary trauma from medical complexities are included.

The Family Centered Treatment initial evaluation components are designed to enable the family member to experience being understood as their story is shared in a visual, participative and often pleasurable process. During these assessment activities opportunities are constantly provided for sharing of how past experiences have and are impacting current functioning which lead to sharing about the past events. Recognizing the behavioral evidences of trauma, developing the safety for the sharing of these experiences and providing experiential and sensory based focused trauma treatment activities for individual members of the family occurs within FCT during this process. 

However, in addition to the support and treatment occurring with the individual member, Family Centered Treatment provides trauma treatment for the family as a unit by integrating the work around an area of family functioning that is of most concern and most likely affecting their ability as a system or unit to respond to each other’s needs. These needs are often evidenced within the family by behavioral attempts by members to demand or create emotional or physical safety, efforts to find a place of belonging, express feelings and be heard and understood, and for acceptance and recognition.   

FCT’s theoretical framework is that behaviors are functions of needs. This perspective is used when assessing the family unit; not just individual members. Thus, the FCT perspective is that the area of functioning that led to the events of trauma are often the result of unmet needs of the family as a unit. Frequently during the Family Centered Evaluation©, it is determined that the traumatic events have occurred as a lack of effective role performance in the family; particularly that of the adults or caregivers.

Additional Elements of the FCT Approach

  • The team functions to serve as a response to empathy fatigue and secondary trauma. The FCT team process, in part, serves to provide the emotional support or staff that become secondary trauma recipients and experience trauma ‘burn-out’ as result of the intense work.

  • ‘Use of self’ training is a large part of Trauma Treatment as it relates secondary trauma and trauma burn-out.  Additionally, use of self training looks to identify preconceived bias’s in staff working with trauma in families.

  • The “Wounded Healer Paradigm” is an intricate approach to addressing and allowing trauma practicing FCT clinicians to understand how trauma impacts their service delivery and lives.

Distinguishing points for FCT Trauma Treatment

The FCT Trauma Treatment training and curriculum was co-designed by the Family Centered Treatment Foundation and Dr. Richard Kagan, National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) consultant and creator of the complex trauma treatment Real Life Heroes® certificate training program.

FCT trauma focuses on addressing the systemic dynamics of trauma on the family system as a whole not just the individual.

In identifying how individual traumas or emotional blocks are impacting the family system, FCT looks to address underlying feelings, attachment needs, and interactional patterns of the family system. The Family Centered Evaluation fidelity component of FCT utilizes three specific tools to identify individual, family and generational patterns of trauma. This identification allows FCT clinicians to specifically create solutions for trauma that has impacted individual and family functioning.

Family Centered Treatment is a SAMHSA and NCTSN Trauma Treatment Practice