This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

What is TBRI??

Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®):
A systematic approach to complex developmental trauma.
{Marythemom: For my brief review of Karyn Purvis developer of TBRI, see this post.}

Dr. Purvis gives an overview lecture of Trust-Based Relational Intervention®. TBRI® is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI® uses Empowering Principles to address physical needs, Connecting Principles for attachment needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. While the intervention is based on years of attachment, sensory processing, and neuroscience research, the heartbeat of TBRI® is connection.
Guest Post By: Trauma Mama - Lori Van Roo
In October of 2013, my husband and I were at the end of our rope with our oldest child (adopted from foster care). By this time, he had have five mental health hospitalizations and his mental health care team recommended several times placement into a residential treatment center (RTC), which was not covered by traditional Medicaid. In addition, my husband and I had concerns over placement into an RTC, as it did not foster attachment and love in our child’s eyes. His biological mother always pushed him to the side, and favored his younger brother (also adopted by our family) who has type 1 diabetes.

TBRI®  is more of a parenting intervention for the adults. It has helped my husband and I make a 180 degree change in our home. Now we can tell our kids, "No" or give an alternative answer without a meltdown and a 2 year old tantrum out of our 12 yr old.

Here is the website on it:

What I have learned the most is that we as parents of "children from hard places" need to have choices so that they still feel in control. This was huge because my 12 yr old would want to eat 1/2 a chocolate cake at 8 PM right before bed and I would tell him no and we would have 2 hrs of "I hate you, your not my real mom, I wish you were dead, I wish you didn't adopt me, etc.” I'm sure you get the picture of the tantrum!

First read chapter 4 from the book The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis. If you do not have the book and just want the chapter on disarming fear, here it is…/CTC-Chapter-4.pdf

The basic premise of TBRI®  is you want to fill up the "yes" bank as much as possible. 
So you say yes to everything as much as possible so that when you have to say no, or give a compromise there isn't a power struggle.

The other biggest thing is that our kids need to eat every 2 hrs. And have high protein snacks available like hard boiled eggs, cheese, etc. So our normal day is breakfast, 2 hrs later snack, 2 hrs later, lunch, 2 hr later, snack, 2 hrs dinner, 2 hrs snack. Do we follow this to a T every day? No, not at all! Most important is the snack prior to bed. As we all know, most of our kids have food dependency issues. Making sure that they get a snack prior to bed is critical to aid in breaking this dependency. (If you can -- I have a child with type 1 diabetes, so it's hard)

The hard part is to find a professional who is:
  1. Trained in TBRI 
  2. Who practices doing it. 
Here is a list off of TCU's website of professionals who have taking the professional's training class and are certified professionals in TBRI.

My oldest (15) who has had 9 mental health hospitalizations in 2 yrs, now calls me Mom, says he loves me, helps around the house, walks the dogs, grades are going up, and is down from six medications to two. He hasn't had a mental health hospitalization in a year.

YouTube videos from TCU on TBRI® :

Opinions within this post are not those of Texas Christian University, but those of fellow Trauma Momma, Lori Van Roo. If you have any questions please feel to contact her via Facebook.

{Marythemom: For my brief review of Karyn Purvis developer of TBRI®, see this post.}


Anonymous said...

That was such a tantalizing intro and I have really respected what you have written in the past that I wish you had explained more about TBRI in your life, more examples, and more why's. I am a person that operates best when I know the workings behind something.

For instance: why is the snack before bed So important for kids? I have a daughter with major food issues. She is a ping-pong with her weight. She has control issues with food.

Or tell us more about how and why (what specifically you did, and where specific changes happened with your 15 year old - was he /she the 12 year old in the article from earlier?)

Thank-you for sharing. Jane VanGogh

marythemom said...

Hi Jane,

This is a guest post. I personally have not used TBRI. I have asked the guest blogger to add in some examples, and will give her your questions too. I will edit/ update the post when I hear back from her. She guesstimated about a week.

Thank you for commenting!

Misty said...


I just "happened" upon your blog by searching: "adopted child goes back to birth family". I read your post from January 22, 2013, and all of its comments. It is the best thing that could have happened today. I needed it! I think I blew up your replies on that post because my post didn't seem to work.

I would email you directly, but not sure if that's possible.

My husband and I adopted our daughter at 15 (she moved in as a foster a few months before turning 15). Our story is not unique, but I need to share it and hear from others that have endured. After "blessing" us with our grandson last year, unwed and a teen at the time, she decided she didn't want to deal with our stability and she sent him away to live with his bio dad (with whom she'd had no prior relationship). A few short weeks later, she moved out of our home and in with a total stranger. In the last nine months or so, she has moved back to the state from which we adopted her, and back to the bio parents and family that had neglected her for her entire life. She also managed to meet and marry another total stranger within just a couple of months after turning 20. She has all but left our family entirely.

She has been diagnosed and treated for so many mental health issues. Of course, she has taken herself off of any meds and is not seeing a therapist. I want to believe that some day (whenever her frontal lobe is developed), she will come back to us in a good way.

The sadness of her just turning her back on us after almost six years is often unbearable.

I hope that I can reach out to people like you and others who've "been there, done that".

Thank you so much for listening!