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leading-Edge Therapies for PTSD in Pittsburgh

The Center for Trauma

The Center for Trauma specializes in mental health care, offering expert therapy for individuals suffering from mental health conditions due to trauma. Our mission is to deliver unparalleled services to these patients by empowering our clinicians. We achieve this through trauma-focused supervision, resources, and training in evidence-based treatment models, including Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

We provide both individual and family therapy for those affected by traumatic events. Our team is proficient in a range of trauma-informed approaches, such as Prolonged Exposure Therapy, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing), Cognitive Processing Therapy, trauma-focused CBT, Art Therapy, and Play Therapy. We are committed to accessibility and flexibility by offering sessions both in-person and virtually.


Illustration of a woman at peace

Trauma Therapy Approach Menu

For Adults:

1.  Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

CPT is a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy that helps patients learn how to challenge and change unhelpful beliefs related to the trauma. CPT is generally delivered over 12 or more sessions and guides patients in learning how to challenge and modify unhelpful beliefs or “stuck points” related to the trauma. In doing so, the patient creates a new understanding of the traumatic event so that it reduces its ongoing negative effects on current life.

2. Prolonged Exposure Therapy for Trauma

Prolonged exposure therapy is a specialized form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) aimed at helping individuals confront and gradually become desensitized to trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations. This approach is grounded in the theory that confronting previously avoided trauma can teach individuals that the memories and cues associated with their trauma are not dangerous and do not require avoidance. This method proves particularly effective in managing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by enabling sufferers to learn that they can safely face their fears. Typically, this therapy spans approximately three months, with weekly sessions tailored to the individual.

For detailed information on this and other treatment options for post-traumatic stress disorder, visit the PTSD Treatment Decision Aid from the National Center for PTSD and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. This resource offers a comparative analysis of various treatment modalities, backed by research findings. Additionally, the Treatment Overview Section includes informative videos that describe what each approach involves, aiding in the understanding and decision-making process for those seeking help for PTSD.

For Children & Adolescents:

1. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT): 

TF-CBT is a proven therapy for youths and their parents or caregivers affected by early trauma, catering to children and adolescents (ages 3 to 18) who face significant emotional and physical symptoms due to traumatic events. This evidence-based approach combines trauma-informed interventions with cognitive behavioral strategies and family support principles. It’s effective for those who have encountered either a single incident or multiple instances of trauma, without requiring a PTSD diagnosis for treatment. TF-CBT not only addresses symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, fear, anxiety, and depression but also tackles depressive, anxiety, cognitive, and behavioral issues. Additionally, it enhances the well-being of the participating parent or caregiver by reducing personal distress regarding the child’s trauma, improving parenting skills, and fostering supportive interactions with the child.

2. Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT): 

PCIT is a trauma treatment model that uses a highly specified, step-by-step approach, offering live-coached sessions for both the parent/caregiver and the child. In this therapeutic method, a trauma therapist coaches the parent/caregiver in specific skills during play interactions with the child. Typically, the therapist conducts the coaching from behind a one-way mirror, focusing on altering negative parent/caregiver-child interaction patterns.

For All Ages:

1. Family Therapy

Traumatic events and symptoms of unprocessed trauma can have a major impact on the individual as well as the family system as a whole. In family therapy, we strive to understand the patterns that have contributed to the traumatic response and relational distress, assist with conflict resolution, and identify areas of strength and resilience. This approach is a relational form of therapy where the main focus is on how members interact with one another and does not focus on blaming an individual or traumatic event as the “problem.” Therapists will focus on a process to allow for deeper connections and understanding of one another. Along with processing the trauma, often a focus on boundaries, hierarchy, family roles, and rules will be included in treatment to help family members shift dynamics and allow for more peace in family life. At the end of treatment, we hope families are able to walk away feeling more attached and secure in their relationships, confident and knowledgeable when handling conflict/crisis in the future, and more hopeful and positive about their family and relationships. Please see our Cognitive Behavioral Institute Center for Marriage and Family for more information:

2. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

EMDR therapy is designed to help patients manage their emotional response to traumatic experiences by briefly focusing on the trauma memory, including the emotions, physical sensations, and negative thoughts about themselves and the world that it triggers. This process involves bilateral stimulation (such as eye movements, audio tones, or tactile stimulation) which has been shown to reduce the vividness and emotional intensity of the traumatic memories. Unlike other treatments for trauma, EMDR does not require prolonged exposure to the distressing memory, extensive descriptions of the traumatic experience, challenging beliefs, or completing homework assignments. Sessions can vary in length, from 6 weeks to many more, depending on the individual needs of the patient. This method offers a unique approach to processing and reducing the impact of traumatic experiences on a person's life.

Meet CBI's Trauma Team

Krista Elston headshot

Krista Elston, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Krista Elston LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in treating children, adolescents, and young adults who have experienced trauma. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Penn State University and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She is nationally certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and has over 14 years of experience in providing this treatment at the Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents at Allegheny General Hospital. Krista specializes in the assessment and treatment of trauma including sexual and physical abuse, witnessing domestic or community violence, traumatic grief, and car accidents. Using evidence-based treatment, Krista is able to provide clients with a safe space to discuss their experiences and learn coping skills that will help them throughout their lives.

Jennifer Snow headshot

Jennifer Snow, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

Jennifer specializes in working with patient with a history of trauma, and is a certified EMDR therapist through EMDRIA. She has training and background in utilizing CBT and DBT strategies to treat a wide spectrum of disorders. Some of these disorders include Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Personality Disorders, Substance Abuse Disorders and Adjustment Disorders. Jennifer obtained has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Family Studies from Messiah College, a Masters of Science Degree in Counseling Psychology from Chatham University, and is a Licensed Practicing Counselor in the state of Pennsylvania.

Megan Cook headshot

Megan Cook, MA, ATR-BC, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Art Therapist

Megan Cook is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Art Therapist. She received her Master’s Degree in Art Therapy with a Specialization in Counseling from Seton Hill University. For the past five and a half years, she has treated clients of all ages who have experienced or witnessed violence, crime, and interpersonal trauma. Megan uses a number of modalities to support her clients through the therapy process. She is a certified Level 1 EMDR Therapist, and is trained in Parent Child Interaction Therapy and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She utilizes Art Therapy to enhance communication to self and others, process trauma and grief, and move towards growth and wellness. Megan believes the therapeutic relationship is the catalyst for change and healing. She specializes in working with children and their parents to repair the relational wounds created by trauma.

Tori Novosel headshot

Tori Novosel

Professional Counselor

Tori Novosel earned her Masters in Counseling from Duquesne University in 2021 with a focus in marriage, couple, and family counseling. She has experience working with adolescents, adults, couples, families, and individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, addiction, and eating disorders. Tori is committed to forming strong, trusting relationships with clients, believing that the therapeutic alliance is at the heart of treatment. She uses a person-centered, humanistic approach in addition to evidence-based practices to foster client growth, help them accomplish their goals, and create meaning in their relationships and lives.