About Cue-Centered Therapy

Cue-Centered Therapy, or CCT, is an evidence-based intervention for youth with chronic traumatic experiences. Studies show that following the CCT protocol can help your clients reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD (see here and here).

CCT is appropriate for youth with a history of adverse childhood experiences or who are living in conditions that carry a risk of recurrence of trauma. Further, CCT is healing for youth with varied traumas, developmental levels, and backgrounds. Rather than focus on traumatic events in isolation, the CCT framework emphasizes the impact of accumulating stress throughout a lifespan, otherwise known as allostatic load.

CCT is anchored in the fact that exposure to multiple forms of trauma and adversity in childhood leads to different psychological and developmental outcomes. CCT aims to address the diverse outcomes by promoting self-empowerment through increased knowledge and insight.

CCT is a hybrid approach that combines elements from cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic, interpersonal, expressive, and family therapies. The intervention is framed around the neurobiology of trauma beginning by teaching children how cues develop through classical conditioning and how they maintain trauma responses. Youth develop insight into how these cues influence their emotions, cognitions, physiological reactions, and behaviors.

A central component of CCT is helping youth place their traumatic events in the greater context of their lives. Rather than “unlearn” conditioned maladaptive responses to cues, CCT focuses on building new responses, utilizing the strengths and adaptive coping mechanisms already present in the child. This principle empowers youth to be their own agents of change.

CCT is individual therapy consisting of 15 weekly sessions for the child. Caregivers participate in 3-4 sessions selected carefully to help build their ability to coach and support the child. The clinician may add extra sessions to reinforce particular components of the intervention.

CCT is intended for pediatric mental health professionals (child psychiatrists, child psychologists, child Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and other mental health professionals working with children and youth) who have experience with evidence-based interventions and treatment of trauma. CCT was developed by Dr. Victor Carrión of Stanford.

Explore CCT

Read the story of one adolescent's experience with CCT:
Beyond Behavior: A new type of therapy takes its cues from trauma

CCT Essential Treatment Manual

English and Spanish versions