Cognitive Therapy involves a collaborative effort between the psychologist and a child or adolescent to examine and understand negative thought patterns that are related to emotional and/or behavioral problems.
Children are often able to quickly gain insight into the self-defeating thoughts that cloud their everyday lives. They are able to improve their awareness of irrational thought and learn to challenge these core beliefs. Examples of irrational thought patterns include catastrophizing, all or none thinking and overgeneralization. The tendency to perceive events in these and other ways contributes to great emotional distress for many children and adolescents. These thoughts may also lead to many unhealthy behaviors as they try to alleviate their discomfort.
Cognitive Therapy identifies and reduces unhelpful patterns of behavior. Children learn techniques that enable them to reduce their unwanted habits while establishing healthier ways of living. Behavioral strategies like exposure therapies and systematic desensitization are used to treat phobias, obsessive patterns of thinking and compulsive or ritualistic acts. Strategies such as progressive muscle relaxation are also taught to help children reach their goals in many areas by reducing avoidance of feared situations, conquering procrastination and lessening physical and mental discomfort.
When combined effectively, these approaches can have a powerful influence on the lives of children and adolescents, helping them achieve their goals and realize their potential in all areas of living.