Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

  • By: The DIG for Kids
  • Time to read: 3 min.

Unlike traditional psychotherapy which can take years, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is specific-goal oriented, with positive results often beginning rather quickly. CBT places emphasis on the role that thoughts play in regards to emotions and behaviours, stressing that changing thoughts can have a profound affect altering behaviour. Highly respected for providing relief in mood, anxiety and behavioural disorders, CBT therapists work with children and their families to develop individualised treatment plans designed to help children to learn new problem solving skills while they increase their confidence and sense of self-esteem.

Restructuring Thoughts

Often, when children are anxious or depressed, they are flooded with self-directed messages of inadequacy and doubt. CBT strives to help kids reconsider their assumptions and helps them to see that if they change the way they view themselves and their environment, they can improve their condition. For example, it is not uncommon for kids with social phobias to believe that other people don’t like them or will laugh at them if they make mistakes. By getting kids to see that thinking these things doesn’t necessarily make them true, it opens up the possibility that they may be well accepted into their peer group, giving them the confidence to attempt social situations that they may have previously avoided.

Practice Makes Perfect

One of the most fundamental beliefs of CBT is that mastering changes in thought processes that ultimately help to control behaviours requires practicing the recommended skills. CBT therapists routinely request that patients read materials related to their condition as well as practicing the skills that are discussed during sessions. Also, since CBT is based on the notion that thoughts and reactions are learned, rather than inherent, they can also be “unlearned,” replacing debilitating misinformation with positive, empowering thoughts.

Therapists Provide Guidance

While CBT therapists provide information and encouragement to their patients and act as sounding boards for children’s input, the main responsibility for successful therapy lies with the patients themselves. Therapists can provide guidance, but consistent dedication to achieving the goals on the part of the patients and their families is what will ultimately determine the results. CBT therapists believe that you cannot merely “talk it out” and expect to see positive results, but must instead be willing to retrain the thought process and then put the new ideas into action.

Asking the Right Questions

In order for cognitive behavioural therapy to be most effective, CBT therapists must ask questions that get children to re-think their negative assumptions and also encourage the kids to formulate their own questions. When kids are encouraged to express their worries, they may come to the realisation that many of their fears are unfounded. Getting children to view feared situations as less threatening or intimidating. Kids who suffer from mood, anxiety, or behavioural disorders may feel overwhelmed by their symptoms and feel that their problems are far too huge to overcome. By providing suggestions and tools that break down recovery into small, manageable steps, kids can gain hope. Positive thoughts often result in positive actions, and positive actions are good for everyone.

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