To better protect and heal children from trauma and its emotional impact


Application of Alternatives for Families: A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy to school settings.

Herschell, A. D., Kolko, D. J., Baumann, B. L., & Brown, E. J. (2012).  Journal of Applied School Psychology, 28, 270-293.


What was our goal? This paper focuses on how to use Alternatives for Families: A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (AF-CBT), an evidence-based treatment for families with children who have been affected by verbal and/or physical aggression, in the school setting.

How did we gather our data? Procedures for and components of AF-CBT are described in detail, highlighting the challenges and benefits of providing this model in school settings.

What did we learn? AF-CBT has been used by psychologists in school settings in a variety of ways. Some professionals follow the model as they would in outpatient settings, and others tailor the model to meet the needs of the particular school or population. Schools as an alternate setting have a number of advantages: 1) perceived as less-stigmatizing than mental health centers, 2) more accessible to a specialized intervention as the child attends regularly, and 3) permitted a more ‘hands-on’ approach to behavioral problems than often present in schools. Challenges also were identified, including: training staff on interventions, space and time to do treatment, maintaining confidentiality on sensitive topics, and coordinating caregiver involvement, especially for families with little resources.

How does this study impact our work? AF-CBT in schools is an alternate to traditional mental health treatments in situations where the school system is committed to taking actions that sustain the model including working with administrators to allot time for training workshops, consultations, child, caregiver and family sessions; plan for staff turnover, and apply creative solutions to engage families and funders.