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Online platform provides knowledge on psychotherapy for traumatized children and teenagers

The Chair of Clinical and Biological Psychology at the KU has the aim of improving the care situation for children and youths suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. To achieve this, the Chair has developed a free online learning platform for psychotherapists. The portal also takes into account the needs of young patients with a migrant background or refugees. Amongst others, the learning platform provides knowledge on the “trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy” (TF-CBT) which was developed in the USA and has proven to be an appropriate form of treatment for this target group after having been thoroughly evaluated. The concept of the German language portal of the KU is derived from the original version which has existed in the USA since 2005 and meanwhile has more than 300,000 users.

“This online portal was designed to close the gap between science and practice: on average, it takes 17 years until a new method of treatment is integrated in primary health care. We intend to significantly reduce this period of dissemination and would like to contribute to raising the awareness for TF-CBT as a tried and tested form of therapy”, explains Prof. Dr. Rita Rosner, chair of Clinical and Biological Psychology at the KU and head of the KU’s psychotherapeutic outpatient department. Rosner received funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research to verify the effectiveness of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for children and teenagers in several studies carried out with her team. In these projects, therapists were trained by way of a combination of seminars and e-learning offers, which then led to the idea of creating the new online portal. “The learning platform is an excellent example for the transfer of knowledge to society, to which the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt is committed in addition to research and teaching. We want to conduct scientific research for and with society”, emphasizes KU President Prof. Dr. Gabriele Gien.

The TF-CBT is also a suitable form of therapy for treating children and teenagers who have experienced war and flight, as it has proven effective in different cultural settings in studies carried out in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The Center for Flight and Migration (ZFM) at the KU supports the two-year development phase of the learning platform with funding from the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. The financial support was used for the translation of materials into Pashto, Farsi and Arabic with which therapists can now provide standardized treatment for children and teenagers. “The ZFM not only wants to take a closer look at causes and effects of flight and migration but also wants to provide specific offers in the area of education and coaching. The online training for therapists is another possibility to contribute to the mitigation of consequences of flight and migration”, explains Dr. Julia Devlin, director of the Center for Flight and Migration at the KU.

In TF-CBT, traumatized children and youths learn to deal with their emotions evoked by traumatic experiences more successfully and to integrate such experiences into their lives. “After successfully completing a TF-CBT, children should feel skilled and equipped to deal with the trauma, so that they are no longer overwhelmed by problems connected to it. On the other hand, the therapy should encourage them to take an optimistic look ahead, because they have learned how to deal with problems also in future”, explains Rosner. The TF-CBT is a relatively short model of treatment comprising 12 to 20 sessions. To ensure best possible therapeutic progress, it is ideal to involve a parent or other caregiver in the therapy as supporting reference person.

Users of the platform are not bound by time or location and are free to learn whenever they want. The platform includes detailed step-by-step instructions for every therapy component which also help in explaining the concepts and techniques of therapy to the patient at a later stage. There are also videos demonstrating therapeutic procedures and users can download worksheets and diagnostic instruments. After each of the 12 learning units, users need to complete an interim test. After successfully completing all tests, participants will receive a certificate. Credits obtained can be recognized.

The online learning platform is available at and can be used once free registration is completed.