Answering Your Questions About TBRI

Pam Shepard, MSW, LCSW, Supervisor of Holt Clinical Services and Marissa Robello, LMSW, CSWA, Director of Colombia Adoption, answer your questions about TBRI.

TBRI ®, or Trust-Based Relational Intervention, is a parenting intervention created and developed by Dr. David Cross and Dr. Karyn Purvis at Texas Christian University’s Institute of Child Development. TBRI® is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about this parenting intervention strategy.

My adoption social worker told me I need to find a TBRI therapist. Where can I find one?

If you are looking for attachment- and trauma-informed therapy, we would advise against holding out for a therapist who is also trained in TBRI. Therapy and TBRI can complement each other well, but they are two distinct approaches that meet different needs for families.

TBRI is a parenting intervention and not a form of therapy, and not all TBRI trainers are licensed therapists. While TBRI is one beneficial modality, therapists are often trained in a much broader range of therapeutic attachment and trauma modalities, such as the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP), Theraplay®, ARC (Attachment, Regulation and Competency), EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Brainspotting and Neurofeedback to name a few.

In short, while finding a therapist who has also been trained in TBRI can be very beneficial, there are many other amazing and experienced therapists who could help you and your family.

If you are specifically seeking TBRI and not therapy, TCU KPICD keeps a list of all TBRI practitioners on their website. 

I have read “The Connected Child” by Dr. Karyn Purvis and am using the techniques, but they don’t seem to be working. What am I doing wrong?

“The Connected Child” is extremely informative, but it is really only an introduction to TBRI. If you are facing challenges, it’s very important to receive the full TBRI Caregiver Training as it expands on the three principles outlined in “The Connected Child.” Without the training, many parents jump to the correcting portion of the model before truly understanding the connecting principle and doing their own personal work. For the intervention to be effective, TBRI also requires consistency, plenty of support for parents/caregivers and, if you’re part of a two-parent household, investment from both parents.

For families in Illinois, Holt USA offers a full, ongoing, in-person TBRI caregiver courses.

If you don’t live in Illinois, TCU offers an online, go-at-your-own-pace TBRI course.

A friend told me that because our family follows a Biblical approach to discipline, TBRI won’t work for us. Is that right?

TBRI caregiver training is an intervention for all parents, no matter their belief system. But Empowered to Connect also offers a “Created to Connect” guide, which is a spiritually based approach to TBRI.

Our children came home to us several years ago and we already have a strong attachment. Can we just skip the “connecting” part and go straight to the “correcting” part?

No. We all want the quickest “fix,” right? But the heart and soul of TBRI is CONNECTING. If you skip this part, you won’t be practicing trauma-informed, connected parenting, which is the foundation for behavioral change. TBRI is investment parenting; it’s a marathon and not a race.  

I’ve read “The Connected Child” and attended the Empowered to Connect simulcast (or live conference). Can I train my moms’ group in TBRI?

Only TBRI practitioners are allowed to train or teach others in the parenting intervention. You can, however, apply to attend the TBRI practitioner training in Texas at

Where can I find additional resources on TBRI?

Texas Christian University Institute of Child Development

TBRI 101

Holt’s Journey of Hope Camps

Hope Connection 2.0

Empowered to Connect

My kids are adolescents now.  Can I still use TBRI with them?

Absolutely. The strategies, techniques and tools can be adjusted to use with older kids and teens. There is also a TBRI for Teens video just for you!

Are there moderated social media groups that offer TBRI support?

Yes! Parenting With Connection and Homeschooling With Connection are Facebook groups moderated by TBRI practitioners. 

It seems like this approach would be wonderful for educators to use. Is there a TBRI training for teachers?

Yes! TCU KPICD just released a new digital download curriculum that schools and educators can purchase for their staff!

Pam Shepard | MSW, LCSW/Supervisor of Clinical Services and Marissa Robello | LMSW, CSWA Clinical Social Worker

photo of adoptive family with adoptive parents holding two daughters

Holt provides support to all adoptive families!

We are here to serve, connect and support all adoptive families! We offer post-adoption coaching and education, summer camps and more.

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