Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) Part 1- Explained through a Biblical Lens.

posted in: Children, Counseling, Parenting, Trauma | 0

Post by Life Counseling counselor Jordan Brand

What is TBRI®?

Created by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross, out of the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University, Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) is a holistic, attachment-based, evidence-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI® utilizes Connecting Principles to meet attachment needs, Empowering Principles to address physical needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. Although TBRI® is based on years of attachment, trauma, and neuroscience research, the intervention has really grown and flourished through the hands-on work done with children who have experienced trauma.[1]

Why TBRI®?

Trauma research tells us that vulnerable children, or “children from hard places,” have changes in the brain, body, biology, and belief systems because of the trauma(s) that they have experienced. What we know about trauma is that it hijacks the brain, causing kiddos to live in a constant state of fear and arousal. Those of us who live and work within the orbit of children often tend to see the behavioral manifestations, such as tantrums, meltdowns, aggressive behavior, shutting down, or disrespectful language, which often leads these kids to be labeled as “defiant,” “oppositional,” or just a “bad kid.” But if we could look inside these kids, we would see the hurt, pain, and fear that these kids live in all day every day. But, there is hope for healing! Current research on the brain is telling us that by developing safe and trusting relationships with our kiddos, we can literally rewire the brain and help create new patterns for being in relationships, so that kids don’t have to constantly live in a state of fear and use maladaptive strategies to get their needs met.

In the Old Testament, Israel, a nation of people enslaved under Pharaoh’s rule for 400 years, had to learn how to trust Yahweh after He delivered them from the hand of Pharaoh’s oppression and brutality.  Yahweh had to show Israel through a relationship with Him that He was different than Pharaoh. Yahweh was the one true God who is loving, kind, merciful, slow to anger, trustworthy, and faithful. But it would take Israel time to be able to begin to understand that this Yahweh was worthy of trust and obedience. They had to experience His Love and fatherly care and protection before they could put away their dysfunctional ways of getting their needs met and rest in His protection and care.

Hosea describes this in chapter 11 of his book in the Bible: When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them.”

We can see God’s patience in the way that He treated Israel in the midst of their hardness of heart because He was a good and compassionate Father who knew their story and history of violent abuse and trauma in Egypt.

Even though we have been sinned against, it doesn’t negate our responsibility in the way we sin against others, ourselves, and God, but God always deals with the problem of sin with the ultimate purpose of bringing His children back into relationship with Him. Our God is a relational God and He has wired us in the same way. He is a good Father who cares about our stories and longs for us to experience healing in the arms of His redemptive love.

We see that God honors Israel’s history of trauma by first rescuing them from Pharaoh’s enslavement and lavishing his fatherly love on them before asking for faithfulness and obedience to His covenant. TBRI also affirms this biblical pattern of relating to our children: we must first develop safe, trusting relationships with kids before they can feel safe in our care and follow our lead.

Note:::: Although TBRI® was designed for children who have experienced some type of abuse, neglect, and/or trauma, it has been proven to be effective with all children. TBRI® offers hope and help to parents, caregivers, teachers, or anyone who works with children by addressing the whole child: brain, body, biology, behaviors, and beliefs.


Jordan works at Life Counseling Center Ministries, Roland Park location. She has her masters degree in counseling from Covenant Theological Seminary and is an LGPC. She has TBRI training from Texas Christian University’s Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development. This training equips her to help children who struggle with fear-based behaviors due to trauma and connect them to the promises of God’s word. If you think your child could benefit from meeting with Jordan call our offices today to schedule.