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Cognitive behavioral therapy

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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a particularly good approach for children with anxiety and depression. For children this type of therapy starts with a clinical therapist who then partners with the parents to help the child become his or her own therapist. The child will do that by learning to identify feelings, thoughts and behaviors and be able to change them when they aren’t producing desirable results.

Sometimes a therapist will assign “homework” for a child. In these exercises, a child will be asked to keep a journal or work with word associations. A parent can help guide the child and support his or her efforts. A parent can also provide prompts when they see their child struggling in the moment. The idea of CBT is to identify, as it’s happening, the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that lead to depression or anxiety.

Dr. Aaron Beck is often called the father of CBT. He developed it through the 1960s after working on studies to show the effectiveness of Freud’s psychoanalytic treatment. While Freud’s theories worked well, they did not appear to address depression. That’s when Dr. Beck started putting together his own theories and ideas which later became known as cognitive behavioral therapy. He may have initially been striving to find a treatment for depression, he ended up creating a successful treatment for anxiety, stress related disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsion, and many other conditions which plague adults and children. Since the 1980s CBT has been shown as an effective treatment for childhood mood disorders and can help children with ADHD.

Source: Cognitive Therapy for Kids, NACBT.org

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