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Bounce Back: An Elementary
School Intervention for Childhood Trauma


By Jack Komer, 12/2021.

What is Bounce Back?                                                                                     

Bounce Back is a school-based group intervention for elementary students aged 5-11 years. It is based on the Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) designed for students in fifth-twelfth grade (Bounce Back, 2021). Bounce Back aims to teach elementary students exposed to stressful and traumatic events how to cope with and recover from their experiences through building resiliency (Treatment and Services Adaptation Center (TSA), 2021). Bounce Back is typically used with children who have experienced or witnessed community, family, or school violence, as well as with children who have experienced natural disasters or traumatic separation from a love one due to death, incarceration, deportation, or child welfare detainment. It is used to help relieve symptoms of child post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and functional impairment (California Evidence Based Clearinghouse. The intervention is available in both English and Spanish (CEBC), 2021).

Components of Bounce Back

  • Bounce Back consists of 10 group sessions with 4-7 students, 1-3 parent group sessions, and 2-3 individual student sessions.

  • Group sessions with students last for an hour and occur once a week for 10 weeks (Bounce Back, 2021).

  • During these sessions, the practitioner provides psycho-education and works with the students on feelings identification, positive activities, relaxation training, cognitive coping, gradual exposure for functional impairment, the trauma narrative, social support and connecting with others, and problem solving and conflict resolution (CEBC, 2021).

  • During the group parent sessions, the practitioner reviews the skills the children are learning in their sessions so the parents can support the children while they practice the skills at home.

  • In the individual sessions with students, the practitioner helps the child to develop a “My Story” trauma narrative (Bounce Back, 2021).

  • This narrative is developed through writing, illustrating, and sharing their personal trauma (TSA, 2021).

  • Near the end of the program, the practitioner meets with the parent and child to share the child’s story (Bounce Back, 2021).

Evidence of Bounce Back Effectiveness

Langley, Gonzalez, Sugar, Solis, & Jaycox (2015) found through a randomized controlled study that students in the Bounce Back program demonstrated significantly greater improvements in parent- and child-reported post-traumatic stress and child-reported anxiety symptoms than those in the delayed condition, and those in the delayed condition demonstrated improved parent- and child-reported post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms upon receiving the Bounce Back intervention in a multi-cultural population. Another randomized controlled study found that Bounce Back produced significant reductions in emotional symptoms in students with emergent mental health difficulties (Humphrey & Panayiotou, 2020). In urban elementary schools, Bounce Back was found to be effective in reducing PTSD symptoms and improving coping skills, even in the presence of ongoing trauma and stressors (Santiago et al., 2018).

Bounce Back Program Site

National Child Traumatic Stress Network Fact Sheet on Bounce Back


Bounce Back: Home. (2021). Retrieved from California Evidence Based Clearinghouse (CEBC). (2021). Bounce Back. Retrieved from

Humphrey, N., & Panayiotou, M.. (2020). “Bounce Back: Randomized trial of a brief, school-based group intervention or children with emergent mental health difficulties.” European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2020, doi:10.1007/s00787-020-01612-6.

Langley, A. K., Gonzalez, A., Sugar, C. A., Solis, D., & Jaycox, L. (2015). Bounce back: Effectiveness of an elementary school-based intervention for multicultural children exposed to traumatic events. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 83(5), 853-865. doi:10.1037/ccp0000051

Santiago, C. D., Raviv, T., Ros, A. M., Brewer, S. K., Distel, L. M., Torres, S. A., Kuller, A. K., Lewis, K. M., Coyne, C. A., Cicchetti, C., & Langley, A. K. (2018). Implementing the Bounce Back trauma intervention in urban elementary schools: A real-world replication trial. School PsychologyQuarterly, 33(1), 1-9. doi:10.1037/spq0000229

Treatment and Services Adaptation Center (TSA). (2021). Bounce Back. Retrieved from 

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