What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, is a type of therapy that focuses on current problems and symptoms.    It is a problem focused and action oriented approach to psychotherapy that involves a collaborative relationship between the patient and therapist.  The patient and therapist actively work together to identify problems, set goals, and develop a plan that will help the patient manage their symptoms and build the new skills necessary to prevent future challenges.  CBT is a gradual process in which patients take active steps toward change.  It typically involves homework assignments so patients have the opportunity to apply the skills that they are learning to daily life.   It is usually short-term and consists of 6-20 sessions.

Why is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy beneficial for Children and Adolescents?

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps children and adolescents explore the relationship between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  It helps them identify how they are connected and understand the affect they have on one another.  For example, a depressed teen may be avoiding social situations because they “just don’t feel like going out.” During this process they might learn that not attending social events is a behavior that is connected to their sad or lonely feelings and supported by their negative thoughts or beliefs that their friends do not have fun hanging out with them anyway.

Cognitive behavioral therapy brings awareness to negative thinking and helps children and adolescents identify and learn ways to cope with various stressors.   CBT gives children and adolescents the opportunity to build new skills to manage their difficulties, cope with their challenges, and problem solve about preventing future obstacles.  Cognitive behavioral therapy creates an environment for children and their parents to build a collaborative relationship with their therapist and be actively engaged in their treatment.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be useful for treating:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • ADHD
  • Behavioral Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Trauma
  • Tics