General Information

Children in the Phoenix PRTF Program

Eighty to ninety percent of the youth we see at the KidsTLC PRTF have a history of childhood trauma, abuse or neglect, as well as disrupted attachments. Many are now being raised by foster parents, adoptive parents, or grandparents and other relatives. Most would meet criteria for complex PTSD or developmental trauma disorder, which are research diagnoses and not in the DSM V (see van der Kolk, 2005). These kids usually get diagnosed with a mood disorder such as Mood Disorder NOS or Bipolar Disorder, along with disruptive behavior disorders, such as ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Sometimes they have an anxiety disorder like PTSD, Social Anxiety Disorder or Anxiety Disorder NOS. Sometimes they meet criteria for Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Regardless of diagnosis, these youth are admitted to PRTF’s because their emotional instability leads to emotional explosions (or implosions) in which they yell and curse, throw and break things, hit and kick people, and cut and burn themselves. As they reach adolescence these youth become reckless with their lives – driving drunk, having indiscriminate sex, taking drugs. These youth have developed mistrust of adults – i.e. they feel that they can only trust themselves. So they are resistant to and defiant of adults in authority. They cannot accept care and support from adults who have good intentions – parents, foster parents, therapists and case managers. Their dangerous behaviors and resistance to help makes them difficult to treat.


  1. To reduce destructive behaviors, to redirect the attitudes and feelings, which contribute to these behaviors, to provide a safe environment, and to resolve the emotional effects of abuse/neglect.
  2. To provide a supportive environment for learning positive ways of interacting with others.
  3. To provide clients with the freedom to make choices and to accept responsibility for those choices and the ensuing consequences.
  4. To prepare each client for discharge and re-integration into society.