Cognitive Behavioral Therapy In Children

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy is a mental health treatment that is also called CBT. During CBT, your child's mental health caregiver will help him change some ways he thinks and acts. Your child's caregiver may ask you and your child several questions about his past and your family. Your child's caregiver may ask him questions about how he feels and reacts to things that bother him. Your child's caregiver will teach him about his mental health problem. Your child may meet with his caregiver alone, with family, or with other children with similar problems. Your child may meet with his caregiver for several weeks or months. CBT may be used with other kinds of treatments, such as talk therapy or medicine.

  • Your child's caregiver may give him homework so he can keep track of how he feels. Together, they will set goals for the things that your child wants to change about himself. During their therapy sessions, your child and his caregiver will decide whether your child is meeting his goals. If your child is younger, his caregiver may give him rewards for reaching certain goals. With CBT, your child may not feel as bad about himself or other people. Your child may feel better by changing how he thinks and reacts to things that upset him. He also may stop doing things that get in the way of doing well at school or home. Ask a caregiver how your child can get started with CBT.

AFTER YOU LEAVE:

Medicines:

Your child's caregiver may decide that your child needs medicine to help decrease his symptoms. Medicine may help him feel more relaxed during CBT.

  • Keep a current list of your child's medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list and the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Give vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.

  • Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Ask before you change or stop giving your child his medicines.

  • Anti-anxiety: Anti-anxiety medicine may help your child feel less nervous and more relaxed.

  • Antidepressants: Antidepressant medicine may help your child feel less sad. With this medicine, your child may feel more positive about himself and other people.

  • Mood stabilizers: Mood stabilizers may help your child stop having extreme changes in his mood. Your child may feel more calm and steady with mood stabilizers.

How cognitive behavioral therapy may help your child:

There are many reasons why your child may need CBT. He might have a mental health problem that gets in the way of doing well at school. A mental health problem also may stop him from doing well at home or being around other people. CBT may help your child feel better if he changes the way he thinks about a health problem. CBT may help your child be less angry and aggressive towards others or himself.

Follow-up meetings:

You and your child's caregiver will decide how many meetings your child will have. After your child stops seeing his caregiver, he may need more meetings now and then. These booster sessions may help him keep his new thoughts and behaviors. Family members may go with your child to these booster sessions. Keep all appointments. Write down any questions you and your child may have. This way you will remember to ask these questions during your child's next visit.

How cognitive behavioral therapy may help your child's depression:

When your child has depression, he may feel very sad for no reason. With CBT, he may start to feel better about himself and his future. He may become more active and spend less time in bed. He may learn new skills for solving problems and being around other people. He may become less angry. He may get better at coping with events that are stressful, like a school exam. With CBT, your child may feel more hopeful about the world around him. He may do better at school and at home.

How cognitive behavioral therapy may help your child's anxiety:

If your child has an anxiety disorder, he may worry too much or feel very nervous. If he has separation anxiety, he may become very upset when he leaves you or other important family members. He may refuse to go to school. Your child's caregiver may help him relax when he faces things that worry him. Your child's caregiver may help him use positive thoughts to make him feel less anxious about himself. You or your family members may be asked to learn new skills to help your child. As your child becomes less worried and nervous, he may feel better around new people and places.

How cognitive behavioral therapy may help your child's panic:

If your child has panic attacks, he may get very scared or uneasy for no reason. Your child's caregiver will teach him about panic and show him how to breathe deeply to relax. Your child may be given homework to keep track of when he feels panic. Your child's caregiver may use a tool called exposure. Exposure helps your child get used to things that cause his panic attacks. You may be asked to learn new skills to help your child feel less panic. With CBT, your child may change the way he thinks so that he feels less scared. He also may become less scared of going outside your home and being around other people.

How cognitive behavioral therapy may help your child's fears:

CBT may help your child feel better when he is fearful of things that should not scare him. These fears are called phobias. Your child's caregiver may teach him ways to be more relaxed around things that make him afraid. A treatment called exposure may help your child get used to things that cause his phobias. If your child has a social phobia then he may be afraid of being around other people. Your child's caregiver will teach him how to relax when has to do things like speak in class. You may learn healthy ways to show your child that being around certain things or people is safe. With CBT, your child may slowly feel less fearful.

How cognitive behavioral therapy may help your child's obsessions or compulsions:

CBT may help if your child's caregiver has said that he has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). If your child has OCD, he may do certain behaviors over and over again. He might also not be able to stop thinking about certain things. With CBT, your child's caregiver will help him face thoughts, people, and places that scare him. He may help your child accept his thoughts and actions and figure out which ones should be changed. A treatment called exposure may help your child get used to things that cause his OCD behaviors. With CBT, your child may stop doing things over and over again. He may feel more relaxed and do better in school.

How cognitive behavioral therapy may help your child stop hurting himself:

Your child's caregiver will teach your child ways to be less emotional. He may learn tools like mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way of thinking that helps him be less judgmental about himself or others. With CBT, he may learn to handle things that bother him and solve his problems in healthier ways. His caregiver may ask him to write about his moods and thoughts. Together they will figure out which thoughts are wrong or too negative. You may be asked to learn healthy ways to help your child not want to hurt himself. With CBT, your child may feel better about himself and the world around him.

How cognitive behavioral therapy may help your child stop being aggressive towards others:

Your child may be aggressive and attack or threaten people verbally or physically. He also may have trouble following rules or doing what parents and teachers ask of him. This is called oppositional behavior. With CBT, your child may learn about his emotions. He will learn the right way to share his feelings with others. His caregiver may teach him how to relax and learn new skills for being around people. He also may learn to cope better with people or things that bother him. CBT may help your child be less aggressive towards others and do better at school and home.

How cognitive behavioral therapy may help your child with health problems:

CBT may help your child change the way he thinks about a health problem. CBT may help your child cope with long-term bowel problems like irritable bowel syndrome. CBT also may help your child deal with pain that occurs over and over again. Your child's caregiver may teach him to relax and breathe deeply. Your child may learn to think about himself and his health problem in a positive manner. He also may learn to distract himself so he stops thinking about his health problem as much. CBT may help make your child's pain less severe. The pain also may occur less often.

How cognitive behavioral therapy may help your adolescent quit smoking:

Your adolescent's caregiver may help him become aware of what makes him want to smoke. His caregiver may want him to keep a journal. Your adolescent will learn about the physical and mental effects of smoking. Your adolescent will learn new skills to cope with events that make him want to smoke.

Risks of cognitive behavioral therapy:

If your child has a mental health condition, CBT may make his symptoms worse. He might not be able to face the thoughts or things that scare him.

For more information about cognitive behavioral therapy:

  • American Psychiatric Association
    1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1825
    Arlington , VA 22209
    Phone: 1- 703 - 907-7300
    Phone: 1- 888 - 357-7924
    Web Address: http://www.psych.org

CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:

  • Your child becomes sadder or more fearful.

  • You have questions about your child's mental health problem, symptoms, or care.

SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:

  • Your child feels like hurting himself.

  • Your child has done something on purpose to hurt himself.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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