Youth Advocacy through TBRI


This month’s theme is Advocating for Youth, our mission and passion at The Bridge. One of the tools God’s given us for this work is through the study of late Dr. Karyn Purvis called Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) at Texas Christian University.

TBRI® is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI® uses Empowering Principles to address physical needs, Connecting Principles for attachment needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. While the intervention is based on years of attachment, sensory processing, and neuroscience research, the heartbeat of TBRI® is connection.

We have found this approach to be healing and helpful for all children and for ourselves, as we believe connection and relationships are divine. As The Bridge, we are committed to building relationships with youth that can be healing and can encourage and facilitate a trusting relationship with God their Father.

As revealed in Scripture and confirmed by science, all humans are designed as relational beings. Yet ‘children from hard places’ have missed out on so much of the nurture and development that is ideal and serves to build a strong foundation of trust early in life. – Karyn Purvis, PhD

TBRI stands in contrast to more typical, authoritative approaches and/or punitive discipline; instead, it focuses on building trust and connection, creating environments where kids can be successful and where physical needs (hunger, thirst, exercise) are met, on using scripts, easing transitions, establishing routines, correcting through opportunities for redos, encouraging the use of voice, and teaching self-regulation techniques, for example.

This spring, we hosted the Empowered to Connect simulcast to help train staff and other community youth workers and parents on TBRI from a Christian perspective. We look forward to offering this simulcast each year! This summer, we introduced TBRI to our summer team during their orientation, and we’ve loved seeing them apply what they’ve learned each day in their interactions with kids.

Step by step, we are working to ground all our efforts and staff on TBRI principles. In the future, we hope to send key leaders for training in order to be able to help teach other youth workers, churches, and organizations who want to more effectively work with young people.

Below are two videos to introduce TBRI as well as a list of resources.

The first video is a short overview of about 3 min – in English and then in Spanish:

Here is a longer overview (37 min) that was used to help introduce TBRI principles to youth workers of the SHINE program at Hope Church. We are thrilled to see that church’s desire to better serve the children in this community!

Other resources:

Purvis, K. B., Cross, D. R., & Sunshine, W. L. (2007). The Connected Child: Bringing hope and healing to your adoptive family. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Purvis, K. B., Cross, D. R., Dansereau, D. F., & Parris, S. R. (2013).Trust-based relational intervention (TBRI®): A systematic approach to complex developmental trauma. Child & Youth Services, 34(4), 1-28.

Purvis, K. B., Cross, D. R., & Pennings, J. S. (2009). Trust-based relational intervention: Interactive principles for adopted children with special social-emotional needs. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education, and Development, 48, 3-22.

Purvis, K. B., Parris, S. R., & Cross, D. R. (2011). Trust-based relational intervention: Principles and practices. In Rosman, E. A., Johnson, C. E., & Callahan, N. M. (Eds.), Adoption factbook V (pp.485-489). Alexandria, VA: National Council for Adoption.

Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development

Empowered to Connect