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Child and Adolescent CBT

What is CBT?

It sounds like quite a big word so lets break it down. 'Cognitive' means how we think about things. 'Behaviour' is things that we do to feel better, such as avoiding, being on the computer, eating or hiding away. 'Therapy' is about talking, thinking and working with someone who is trained and has experience in helping children and young people with difficulties similar to the ones you may be having.

So CBT is based on the idea that by changing the way you think about things can change how you feel and how you behave (e.g., what you do).

CBT assumes that what we think affects how we feel and how we behave or respond. At times of difficulty the way we see things (like through a dark lense), view ourselves or judge others can alter and we can often feel overwhelmed and not know what to do and feel stuck. Negative thinking can worsen how we feel and behave. This is an example of thoughts, feelings and behaviour triangle or cycle.

CBT Cycle

CBT can help to find the links between thoughts and feelings and help you find more helpful or different ways of thinking or seeing things. This type of therapy can help you beat worries; improve your moods and how you feel about yourself.

CBT is like physiotherapy exercise is for your muscles but for your brain as it helps to develop different and new ways of thinking using different parts of your brain that may need developing or are out of practice to work out problems and find solutions.

Thoughts are words that pop into our heads all the time, they are not facts and not always accurate but they are how we see the world like through a lens in glasses. For example, 'I'm really good at this' or 'I can't do this', 'I'm really worried or fed up'.

We all experience lots of different feelings such as;

We all do certain behaviours such as; listening to music, relaxing, and avoiding things, having disagreements or feeling scared at times.

Many people find CBT very helpful as it makes sense, is easy to understand and helps you develop tools and skills for you to use in your daily life. CBT has been tested very widely and the Department of Health's National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommend it as the most effective therapy for depression, anxiety, trauma, anorexia and bulimia.

Who will come to the sessions?

Initially you and your family will come together so I can hear everyone's point of view, sometimes young people prefer to be seen on their own or with friends. I usually meet with parents (if you are under the age of 16) before I see you as this can be helpful to provide information that is needed about history and things that may be important for me to know to be able to help you. We will decide together when we meet what is best for you.

Often parents or siblings like to involved, it is ok if you do not want this there may be a good reason, but they like to help when you are upset or troubled and I sometimes ask parents to be a coach and help with therapy tasks; this is of course dependent on the problems and your age.

What happens in sessions?

The first meeting allows us to meet and discuss your current situation. I will want to find out more about difficulties and will use questions, sometimes drawings or creative ways to try and get a shared understanding together of what difficulties you are having. We will be able to work out if I am the right person to help you and you can ask me questions as there may be things you may want to know about me.

During sessions we will work together as a team to work out how to help things feel better for you. You will learn how to spot worrying or sad thoughts, how to spot feelings and look at ways of changing behaviours. When you are ready we will work together to begin testing out new ideas using experiments, like scientists or detectives, to find out what helps you to face worries and fear or cope with low moods.

In this type of therapy there is lots of opportunity to practice at home so you and your family can become your own therapist and good at solving problems. This type of therapy involves practice between sessions as you begin to question your thoughts and find new ways of coping and dealing with things.

How long are the sessions?

This varies, usually between 50 minutes and 1 hour, initially on a weekly basis gradually becoming less frequent as you begin to learn how to challenge your thinking and try new things out. We can use drawing, pictures, stories and computer devices to help you use and practice what you learn in therapy. Usually parents may join us for the beginning and end of the sessions, depending on your age and the problems that you are having, although this does not have to be the case.

Records and confidentiality

CBT can help with:

  • Feeling sad, lonely or depressed
  • Feeling worried or anxious
  • Feeling stressed
  • Feeling bad about yourself and confidence
  • Feeling angry
  • Difficult school issues
  • Friendships and social worries
  • Fears and phobias

What we talk about is private and confidential, we can agree together what we decide to tell parents but this is dependent on your age and the nature of the problems. It is often helpful but also may be difficult to think about telling parents as you may be worried they will be cross or upset. I can help you decide what's the best thing to do. The exception to keeping things private is if there were any big concerns about your health or safety, then we would need to think about this and how to keep you safe, this may mean talking to parents, or other professionals if I am concerned there are issues relating to safe guarding.

Sessions are similar to adult CBT sessions although the ideas are adapted to suit your needs, your age, level of understanding and abilities using a range of creative ways to help you access in simple ways the ideas of CBT to help you best recognise and work with your thoughts, feelings and how you respond or deal with things.

I have tried to cover a range of things that people often ask about how CBT can help. If after reading this information you have questions or would like to come and see me please contact me or ask your parent/carer to contact me.

If you were under the age of 16 I would need a parent/carer/adult to come along with you to the first session, as they may need to consent to therapy.

Further information can be found below;

Please note: I have no responsibility for the accuracy or content, and do not endorse any specific website. I invite you to make your own decisions on what is relevant to you and your family. The sites listed above are widely used within local health services

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