Christopher Chelpka

What is TBRI?

This is entry 1 of the blogchain TBRI.


TBRI stands for Trust-Based Relational Intervention. It’s a set of ideas and practices championed by Drs. Karyn Purvis and David Cross of the Texas Christian University Institute of Child Development. TBRI aims to help meet the needs of “children from hard places”; where other interventions are failing, TBRI helps kids with big challenges reach their potential.

As such, TBRI serves an important role in interrupting and in healing. It helps to interrupt the cycles of abuse and neglect that lead to broken families, expulsion from schools, unstable employment, prison time, and out-of-wedlock kids who will face similar challenges. It helps bring about important, life-improving behavioral changes. In the places where TRBI has been adopted, including large school districts, TBRI has made a big difference.

My wife and I learned about TRBI when we were looking for help in parenting a child we adopted. Our parenting strategies that had worked well for our other kids, have not worked well with this kiddo. So over the next few months, even as we explore other possibilities, we are trying to master the fundamentals of trauma-informed care through TBRI and give it a solid chance in our home.

To start learning the fundamentals, we downloaded and listened to most of the 2018 Empowered to Connect conference. This conference provided an overview and some encouragement, but we needed something a little more direct and systematic. So we are currently working our way through this excellent self-guided video course with some coaching support from Mario Sanchez, a licensed counselor and TBRI practicioner in Tucson.

As we learn, I’ll post occasional notes on our learning adventure here.

I’m not sure where this will lead or how much TBRI will help our family, but I do know that as we seek to learn what we can from the research into human development and the thoughtful moral applications of others, we can’t take our eyes off God. In everything we must depend on his grace alone, trusting in his wisdom and power, not ours. So this, from Psalm 74, is my prayer:

Have regard for the covenant, for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence. Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame; let the poor and needy praise your name.