Cognitive therapy is the opposite of behavior therapy. Cognitive therapy focuses primarily on the thoughts and emotions that lead to certain behaviors, while behavioral therapy deals with changing and eliminating those unwanted behaviors. However, some therapists practice a type of psychotherapy that focuses on both thoughts and behavior. This type of treatment is called cognitive-behavior therapy.
Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) helps improve a child’s moods, anxiety and behavior by examining confused or distorted patterns of thinking. CBT therapists teach children that thoughts cause feelings and moods which can influence behavior. During CBT, a child learns to identify harmful thought patterns. The therapist then helps the child replace this thinking with thoughts that result in more appropriate feelings and behaviors.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) looks at the connection between thoughts, feelings and behaviour. CBT can help the child to learn new techniques for dealing with the psychological issue.
Cognitive-behavior therapy may be performed by mental health professionals such as licensed psychologists, and counselors. Therapists provide CBT as evidenced by both coursework and supervised clinical experience.
Children as young as 6 or 7 may benefit from cognitive-behavior therapy. A child must have the ability to understand concepts such as self-talk and self-instruction, which may be more likely in older children.
Several methods of CBT may be used, depending on the particular problem. CBT is considered short-term therapy, with anywhere from 8-16 sessions needed in general.
The therapist and child or adolescent develop goals for therapy together, often in close collaboration with parents, and track progress toward goals throughout the course of treatment.
The therapist and child/family work together with a mutual understanding that the therapist has theoretical and technical expertise, but the child is the expert on him-or herself.
The therapist seeks to help the child discover that he/she is powerful and capable of choosing positive thoughts and behaviors.
Children receiving CBT actively participate in treatment in and out of session. Homework assignments often are included in therapy. The skills that are taught in these therapies require practice.
Treatment is goal-oriented to resolve present-day problems. Therapy involves working step-by-step to achieve goals.
Some of the common types of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are:
Individual cognitive behavioral therapy focuses solely on the child or adolescent and includes one therapist who teaches the child or adolescent the skills needed to overcome his/her challenges. This form of CBT has been proven effective in the treatment of child and adolescent depression and anxiety disorders, as well as substance abuse in adolescents.
CBT with Parents
Cognitive behavioral therapy that includes parents in the treatment process has been shown through research to be effective in treating children and adolescents with anxiety disorders. Specifically, CBT that teaches parents techniques to help care for anxious youth, including psychoeducation, individual therapy, caregiver coping, and parent training techniques are especially helpful. In this form of therapy, the parents are involved directly in the treatment of their children and are essentially trained in ways to help them handle their children’s fears at home.
CBT with Medication
Research has shown that pairing cognitive behavioral therapy with psychotropic medications can be effective in treating a child or adolescent’s anxiety symptoms or depression. A child’s care team will be able to prescribe the right medication if he/she believes it to be necessary in your child’s therapy process.
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