CBT is a time-limited and present focussed talking therapy. It is adaptable and can be applied very flexibly, making it great for working with children and young people of all ages.
CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) is a talking therapy which can work very effectively for children and adolescents to help them overcome conditions such as anxiety, depression, OCD and anger management
The aim of CBT is to challenge unhelpful patterns in thought processes and behaviour and to replace them with more positive patterns and responses.
CBT for children has grown in popularity in the last few years. There is a large evidence base showing it to be highly effective, and more effective than many medications alone. Given that CBT teaches lifelong skills and coping strategies that can be applied across a situation, it can have different long-term benefits for the child or teenager.
CBT can be useful for many different conditions as it helps form healthy responses to challenging situations and research has shown particular benefits for the following conditions:
CBT is based on the theory that it is our thoughts about an event or situation, and not the event itself, which determine our response to it.
It is very common for people to develop unhelpful and negative patterns in their thinking and, in turn, this affects our behaviour. As our behaviours reinforce our thoughts, a negative cycle starts; as described above, our thoughts, emotions and behaviours are all interlinked.
For instance, a child who thinks ‘Everyone thinks I am stupid’ because they were laughed at once, may then go on to develop a fear of answering questions in class.
As a result, the child may stop putting their hand up in class and become increasingly quiet. They may stay off school more, lose friendships and grow increasingly fearful about going to school at all.
All of these behavioural responses further feed into the unfounded thought ‘Everyone thinks I am stupid’.
CBT works by ‘reprogramming’ some of the negative assumptions that the child or teenager has. During therapy, the young person and therapist will work together to understand what negative cycles in thoughts, feelings and behaviours are contributing to their current difficulties.
They will then work together to change these patterns; during this process, they will develop different behavioural and cognitive strategies that can be applied across situations.
CBT helps the child or teenager gain control of their thoughts, by challenging assumptions, encouraging healthy ‘self-talk’, finding effective coping strategies and, where suitable, facing the feared situation to show that things are in fact OK.
Seeing such a hugely experienced clinician has made the world of difference to our son. The therapy has been excellent and our son has never once grumbled about needing to go to his appointments.”
With so many therapy options available, it can be hard for parents to know which one is best suited for their child or teenager.