Cognitive behavioral therapy for kids and adolescents looks to help young clients to make it through difficult periods of their lives, to develop healthily from an emotional standpoint, to relate better with those around them, and to apply the lessons from within the therapy to other aspects of their lives, as often as needed, even after the therapy finishes. It’s scientifically proven that the basis of personality is established during childhood, and it’s important for parents to be attentive to the first signs of emotional problems that children may display. The earlier these problems are addressed, the easier it’ll be for the child to resolve them and avoid developing other, more serious problems which, in time, can transform into personality disorders and create crises of identity.
Childhood is a period of time full of resources which we’ll never have access to again in maturity. During childhood the brain is still in formation, which means that any skill, good or bad, is much easier to assimilate and will later be much harder to change. Why not make full use of this phase of development and growth in the service of the best interests of the child through teaching them skills which will form the basis of their harmonious development throughout the rest of their lives?
As in the case of adults, the therapeutic plan for kids and adolescents is very personalized in order to help every individual on their own terms, in accordance with the specific problems of each person, but also in matching the personal style of each person. Within the framework of therapy, children will be helped by the psychologist to become aware of the connection between emotions, physical sensations (hot flashes, sweating, fainting, etc.), thoughts, and behaviors. They’ll learn to identify where, when, and how their behaviors caused problems or helped resolve them. Using diverse strategies of problem resolution, the child, therapist, and parent will work together in order to change dysfunction thoughts and replace them with more functional and adaptive ones.
Kid’s therapy, as with therapy for adults, requires continuing to work in between the therapeutic sessions as well. Children will be given homework (don’t worry, it’s fun and they’ll be rewarded for their efforts), and the homework will be closely connected to what was discussed during the sessions. Sometimes it’ll also be necessary for the parents to assist in helping them identify and note down the necessary information. However, this isn’t a hard rule, as it’s usually preferable, as much as possible, for them to handle it on their own.
Parents will also be implicated in the therapeutic process. Usually, at the end of every meeting with the child, the therapist will talk with the parent and keep them up to date with the therapy’s progress. Sometimes parents will also require suggestions, advice, or even parental training for specific issues that need addressed. In order to facilitate their children’s positive changes, it’ll also be necessary for parents to make certain changes in the behaviors they exhibit with their children. It’s possible that, depending on the specific nature of each case, some parents will require therapy, in situations where the initial set of problems are too difficult and interfere with communication between the parent and child. This intervention is necessary especially with abused children, certain cases of divorce, when a close family member passes away, as well as other circumstances. It’s important to keep in mind that, although the involvement of the family in treating the child’s problems is crucial, at the same time cognitive behavioral therapy supports the child becoming responsible for themselves through teaching their parents how to give them more freedom for learning how to sort out their own issues. In this way, they’ll have the chance to be responsible for themselves and their own actions.