TBRI® Animate: The IDEAL Response©

When a child from a hard place doesn’t feel safe, the result is often behaviors that appear willful, baffling, and infuriating to caregivers. How we respond is critical.

Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) has developed a guideline to help. Watch as we walk through the IDEAL Response© for dealing with behaviors and building connection between the child and caregiver.

This TBRI® Animate was created in collaboration with Cognitive story-telling and animation studio, most known for their work with RSA Animate. Using animation to share TBRI® was a dream of Dr. Purvis’s, and we are especially grateful to Producer/Writer of this project, Cynthia Hall for her creativity and understanding of TBRI®. It is our hope that the TBRI® Animates will inspire parents and professionals across the world to bring deep healing to vulnerable children.

ALL RISE: For the Good of the Children

We are pleased to introduce a new documentary film featuring a TBRI® court in Tyler, Texas.

ALL RISE, For the Good of the Children, takes you inside the courtroom of an unconventional East Texas judge who uses a trauma-informed, trust-based approach to healing broken families in the child welfare system. Two families share how they transformed their lives through the support and intervention offered by Judge Carole Clark and her team of lawyers, mental health experts and child advocates.

ALL RISE will premiere at the 49th Annual USA Film Festival in Dallas, TX on April 28, 2019. The full film will be available for online viewing in May 2019.

A production of the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development and Cactex Media.

Director, Producer, Writer: Olive Talley

Editor: Jeff Hutton

Director of Photography: Guy Hernandez

Executive Producer:  Dr. David Cross


© Texas Christian University, Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development. All rights reserved.


The Benefits of Play in Cognitive Development

Editor’s note: While it may seem like a simple idea, play is fundamental to forming trust-based relationships. Play permeates the TBRI empowering, connecting, and correcting principles and as Dr. Purvis once said: “Play disarms fear, builds connectedness, and teaches social skills and competencies for life.” We’ve recently received a few questions about the benefits of play in cognitive development, so we’ve provided this summary of current research on the positive impact of play. 

The Benefits of Play

By Sheri Parris & Christian Hernandez

Play provides a wide variety of benefits for children. Through play, children build and strengthen socio-emotional and cognitive skills. Children at play have agency (control over their own actions) and feel socially and emotionally safe. They express themselves freely, trying out different behaviors or ideas, without fear or anxiety. Peter Gray (2017) defines play as an activity that (1) is self-chosen and self-directed, (2) is motivated more by means than ends, (3) is guided by mental rules, and (4) includes a strong element of imagination. (more…)

Lessons from Adoptive Siblings

by: Jana Hunsley

I have sat down to write these words too many times.  It’s hard because you do not know me or my heart.  In complete transparency, I worry that you will think I am complaining or having a pity party or believing the plight of siblings is somehow worse than that of children from hard places.  Even worse, I worry that through giving voice to some of the hard things, people will walk away from reading this post with a negative view of adoption and children from hard places.  These fears make it difficult to write on this topic.  (more…)

On Being an Adoptive Sibling

by: Jana Hunsley 

Not one thing in this life has affected me so deeply or changed me so profoundly as the adoption of my seven siblings.  Before adoption, my home was filled with two older sisters, a younger brother, and two parents.  Life was simple, comfortable, and uncomplicated.  After adoption, everything about life was different.  Between the ages of sixteen and twenty, I gained seven siblings through adoption from different countries.  Seven.  Those of you who understand adoption can just imagine what life was like at that time.  It was difficult, uncomfortable, and every bit of complicated.  (more…)

A New Book From Dr. Karyn Purvis

We’re thrilled to announce the release of a new book for parents of children from hard places, co-authored by Dr. Karyn Purvis, the Institute’s late Founder and Director.

This book is Dr. Purvis’s last written work, and we at the Institute are overjoyed that families will continue to benefit from her words and wisdom.

The press release below describes the book’s format and content:  (more…)

Poetry of Doing

by: David Cross, PhD

“How to Be a Poet”
(to remind myself)

by Wendell Berry
in Land, Life, and the Poetry of Creatures


Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge, skill — more of each
than you have — inspiration, work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.


Breathe with unconditional breath the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in. There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.


Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

Wendell Berry is a great writer, and this is a fine poem. Here he reflects on the writing of poetry, but I think this poem is also about the writing of lives. The writing of poetry is a form of doing, but there is also a poetry of doing. There can be poetry to the life each of us creates, in the moment-by-moment crafting of our daily striving.

Those of us associated with the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development and Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) know about great poems, for our guide — Karyn Purvis — has written some of the finest poetry of doing.(When expertly performed, TBRI itself is a poetry of doing.) Most of us on this TBRI journey have seen numerous examples of Karyn’s poetry, including video clips of her work with many children who attended The Hope Connection. We have also seen the poetry of doing in the Still Face Experiment, when the mother and the infant are interacting before the mother’s face goes still. Other examples include the TBRI Animates created by Cynthia Hall, and the Healing Families video series. I imagine that most, if not all, of you have experienced such poetry of doing, whether in your personal lives, or in your professional lives. Perhaps you wrote the poetry, or perhaps someone you know wrote the poetry. (Children are great poets, at least when they are not robbed of their poetry — after all, isn’t poetry about play and creativity and curiosity?)

If you haven’t experienced such poetry, it is most likely because you haven’t learned how to write it. This is, after all, what Wendell Berry’s poem is about, the writing of poetry. It seems to me that the key to writing poetry — on paper or in action — is mindfulness. This is the topic of Berry’s poem, and this is also the topic of the TBRI journey. “How to Be a Poet” reminds us that mindfulness and poetry both spring from experience and the sacred, and are always situated in time and place. These are worthy reminders as each of us takes our own TBRI journey.

Starting Small: Eye Contact


by: Amanda Purvis

Often times when people first hear about Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) they can feel overwhelmed. If that’s you, take a deep breath. Just like with learning any new skill, we must start small. In this series, we’ll give easy tips to help you start using TBRI®in your home or with the children you serve.

Eye Contact

“Amanda Grace! Look at me now!”

I can’t tell you how many times I heard that line when I was growing up. It’s a fairly normal childhood experience, as we often have our kids look at us when they’re in trouble, when we need to reiterate something, or clarify a rule. While eye contact certainly serves the function of getting attention, a key to Trust-Based Relational Intervention®(TBRI®) is utilizing eye contact first to build connection. Loving, warm eye contact is a vital component in building secure attachment and attuning to our children, especially if you brought your child home later and didn’t get to feed, cuddle, and gaze into your child’s eyes as we often do with young babies. If the children in our care missed this experience, loving eye contact is even more critical to building the attachment relationship. (more…)