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CBT for Children and Teens

Mental health is a vital aspect of overall well-being that significantly impacts the developmental trajectory and quality of life for children and teens, necessitating effective interventions like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for those in need. CBT for children and teens has proven to be an effective intervention for young people facing many psychological challenges.

At New Directions Mental Health, we offer child and teen therapy throughout Pennsylvania, utilizing evidence-based practices that focus on helping youths identify and challenge the thoughts and beliefs underlying any negative behaviors. Our counseling sessions are tailored to meet the needs of our young clients, providing a safe environment for them to express their emotions and work through challenges.

Call us today at 724.374.7414 to learn more about CBT for children and teens and to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health professionals.

What Is CBT?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps individuals understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviors. For children and teens, CBT is often a very effective way to help cope with problems they encounter. It is based on several core principles, primarily that faulty thought patterns—or cognitive distortions—can lead to negative behaviors and emotions.

The therapy helps the youth identify these detrimental thoughts, understand how they affect their behaviors, and replace them with healthier, more positive alternatives. This therapeutic approach can be applied to various mental health conditions affecting children and teens, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and behavioral disorders.

It is conducted in a structured manner and often includes homework assignments to reinforce the techniques learned during sessions. With consistent practice, CBT helps foster resilience and equip young people with the coping skills necessary to navigate life’s challenges.

What Are Some Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Techniques for Young People?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for children and teens encompasses a range of techniques that aim to help young individuals understand, manage, and change their thoughts and behaviors.

Here are some of the standard techniques employed:

  • Cognitive restructuring – This technique helps identify and change negative or harmful thought patterns, replacing them with more positive or helpful ones.
  • Behavioral activation – With this strategy, young people are encouraged to engage in activities they enjoy, which can help improve their mood and reduce feelings of depression.
  • Exposure therapy – This technique involves gradually and repeatedly exposing clients to thoughts, situations, or objects that cause them anxiety, helping them to reduce their fear over time.
  • Problem-solving – This approach teaches young people to effectively manage and solve problems, reducing feelings of helplessness and boosting self-esteem.
  • Relaxation techniques – Techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation are taught to help clients manage their anxiety and stress levels.

CBT for children and teens is designed to empower them to take control of their feelings, understand the link between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and make positive changes.

How to Help Your Child at Home

Here are some ideas you can try with your child while at home:

Encourage Problem-Solving

Parents often know how to solve the problem and step in too early to do it. Try to hold back, encourage detective questions, and build empowerment by watching your child find the answer.

Soothe with Senses

Isolating one or two senses can be relaxing for children. Screens do not provide this relaxation because the eye is fixed on the moving images. Visual relaxation comes from panning with the eyes. Consider going to the museum, walking outside, or playing “eye spy” out the window.


Observe your child’s breathing. Is it about 12-16 breaths per minute? If not, encourage them to slow down breathing. Have a competition of who can pull in the air the slowest.

Name the Feeling

Children often act on their feelings as part of their expression. If you see irritability, anger, or hyper-critical reactions, ask them what feelings they have. Often times it is worry or stress. Identifying it is an excellent first step.

Validate Their Experience

Help them make sense of that feeling. Express to your children validation so they can express more feelings instead of just acting them out. “I can see why you are worried. Your friend made it seem like something bad could happen.”

Call New Directions Mental Health to Schedule an Appointment with Us Today

At New Directions Mental Health, we understand the importance of helping children and teens regain control of their mental health. We offer comprehensive assessments and individualized treatment plans for children and adolescents with a range of mental health issues.

Our skilled therapists work closely with each young person, creating a safe and supportive environment where they can express their feelings and learn effective coping strategies. The goal is to empower individuals with the necessary tools to build resilience, improve their mental well-being, and foster healthier relationships with family and peers.

If you want to know more about CBT for children and teens or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please do not hesitate to contact us at 724.374.7414 or message us on our online contact form.