In the 1950s and 60s, a social psychologist named Harry Harlow discovered something significant in the field of early development. He conducted an experiment in which he presented an infant monkey with two choices of inanimate “surrogate mothers.” One of them was made of harsh metal and wood, but also provided food and milk. The other was soft cloth, resembling a nurturing mother, but it offered no sustenance. The infant almost always chose to be with the cloth nurturer that didn’t provide food. Why? Because intimate connection and nurturance are vital for life. This connection is also a key ingredient in the efficacy of trust-based relational intervention therapy (TBRI).

The field of psychology has come a long way since the days of Dr. Harlow, but his studies did provide some significant insights into the human need for love and connection. While this insight isn’t in direct relation to TBRI, its foundational ideas certainly do relate.

The Crucial Stage of Teen Development

Harlow discovered that trauma can be particularly damaging and long-lasting when it occurs in early childhood development, but the vulnerable period does not end there. The human brain does not fully develop until the mid to late 20s, which can make trauma all the more impactful and its effects longlasting.

TBRI can help teens heal from the traumas they’ve experienced. Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we have many ways to help those students who have suffered more intense instances of trauma. We believe an individualized recovery program including TBRI therapy can help our students get back on their feet and confidently back out into the world.

What Exactly Is Trust-Based Relational Intervention Therapy?

From the burgeoning psychosocial sciences of the 1950s, we now fast forward to the 21st century and when TBRI has become a widely used tool. Since it was developed, TBRI has become increasingly used for those with attachment trauma. If you don’t know, you still may be wondering, though: What exactly is TBRI? How does it work? Does it work, and will it work for my daughter?

TBRI is a therapy that is solely focused on cultivating a connection with a student who has suffered from deep emotional abuse, abandonment, or other various other forms of more severe trauma. TBRI therapy works with three principles: connecting, empowering, and correcting.

Making a Connection 

Our TBRI specialist first focuses on making a genuine connection. Some of the ways they do this are by creating a safe space, playful engagement, and relating with their own stories.

Empowerment Through Routines

Next, the therapist focuses on empowering the student by bringing well-balanced values and rituals into their lives. This includes physical and holistic stimulation, cultivating life skills, and introducing a healthy diet.

Gentle Correction

Then our specialist works on correction, and by this, we mean positive and gentle correction. We work on correcting behaviors as soon as they occur (correction is best absorbed three seconds after the behavior takes place). TBRI therapy guides our students’ behaviors rather than harshly reprimanding them.

How Does Clearview Girls Academy Utilize Trust-Based Relational Intervention Therapy?

Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we create an individualized plan for every one of our students. For those students who fit the criteria, we may incorporate TBRI into their plan. However, it will be done so in tandem with all of our other offerings at our recovery center.

The three principles of TBRI therapy (connection, empowerment, and correction) can all be reinforced by other parts of our program. That is why we believe integrating TBRI therapy with our other resources is so effective.

Connection at Clearview Girls Academy

For connection, we can utilize other forms of therapy out on our ranch. We can better connect by utilizing equine or art therapy, for example, not to mention the “playful engagement” that these therapies bring to the table.

Empowerment at Clearview Girls Academy

For empowerment, we have the beautiful backdrop of Montana in our backyard to help build physical strength and self-confidence. We also offer holistic, dietary, and spiritual offerings that can help build valuable daily rituals.

Gentle Correction at Clearview Girls Academy

The correction aspect of TBRI therapy is bolstered by our round-the-clock professional staff that can stay alert and active. We also have other therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), group therapy, or family workshops that can help with this stage of TBRI therapy.

Trust-Based Relational Intervention Therapy for Long-Term Recovery

The life skills that are gained by our graduates here at Clearview Girls Academy transcend the limited amount of time they spend here. The tools that are acquired here are the ones that make our students the future leaders of this generation.

TBRI is just one of the many resources we have to help our students get well again. It is, however, a very good one, especially for those vulnerable students who have suffered serious trauma.

The field of psychology has come a long way since the times of Dr. Harlow. The field has become more refined, more focused, and more neuroscientifically grounded than ever before. But one constant has remained true since those early days: love, trust, and connection are still critical building blocks in the foundation of recovery.

Trust-based relational intervention therapy (TBRI) is something that we here at Clearview Girls Academy have found to be particularly useful when it comes to helping some of our more trauma-affected students. We find that TBRI therapy can help this particularly vulnerable population of children and teenagers best address their physical needs, their needs for communication and attachment, as well as reframing their fear-based reactions and behaviors. If you feel that your daughter is struggling with mental health issues, especially that which is related to trauma, perhaps TBRI therapy can help. We understand that seeing a child struggle can be scary, but we are here to help you through it. For more information, please contact Clearview Girls Academy at (888) 796-5484.