The Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention in Canadian child and youth advocacy centres

Laura Davidson


 Background: The Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI) is an evidence-based early intervention shown to reduce post-traumatic stress in children and adolescents. This intervention has not been explored in the context of the Canadian healthcare landscape, and more specifically at Child and Youth Advocacy Centres (CYACs); multi-disciplinary service hubs who serve those exposed to trauma. 

Objective: Examine the feasibility and usefulness of the CFTSI in the context of Canadian CYACs. 

Methods: A mixed-methods design was utilized, consisting of a validated, nationally distributed online survey which served as an environmental scan, and key informant interviews, which were thematically analyzed. 

Results: 15 of 29 invited centres participated. Prior to this study, six of 15 respondents had been aware of the CFTSI. Furthermore, two participants reported current use of the CFTSI. Of the 13 centres not using it, 10 expressed that the CFTSI would be an acceptable and relevant intervention at their centre, and there was significant interest in possible future implementation. Interviews with experienced clinicians revealed benefits and challenges of the CFTSI’s format, and the influence of family structure, culture and trauma history on outcomes. Finally, some considerations specific to Canadian centres were uncovered and direction for future research suggested. 

Conclusion: Our findings collectively underscore the potential of the CFTSI to bolster mental health services, which are a priority area requiring improvement at Canadian CYACs. Additionally, this study highlights benefits and challenges relevant to Canadian practice and wide-spread implementation of the CFTSI in this country.

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