Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the gold standard in evidence-based treatment of OCD, anxiety, and related disorders. CBT is a solution-focused and goal-oriented form of psychotherapy during which both thoughts and behaviors are examined. CBT involves building awareness of and challenging faulty, distorted thinking patterns and working to change maladaptive, unhelpful behavior. Unlike traditional talk therapy, that seeks to change behavior by gaining insight, the philosophy behind CBT is that changing behavioral responses to uncomfortable, distressing thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations will result in more reality-based, adaptive thinking and a decrease in emotional and physical discomfort and distress. An ample body of rigorous research has shown that CBT can significantly reduce the symptoms of OCD, anxiety, and related disorders in children, adolescents, and emerging adults, while improving their quality of life and ability to function.
How Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Applied to Children and Adolescents with OCD, Anxiety, and Related Disorders?
CBT for children and adolescents, much like for adults and emerging adults, is an active treatment approach that involves learning cognitive and behavioral skills during therapy sessions and practicing those skills between sessions. We modify CBT to be developmentally appropriate for individual clients, so even very young children can effectively engage in treatment. CBT includes offering psychoeducation about the diagnosed disorder, building awareness of distorted thinking, learning how to challenge that thinking, and practicing more productive behavior in response to distorted thoughts and the accompanying feelings and physical sensations. We strive to empower children and adolescents to be their own CBT therapists and to teach their parents how to be supportive during the therapeutic process and after they leave therapy. CBT for children and adolescents is time-limited, and therapy is terminated once they are asymptomatic or their symptoms have been significantly reduced and their functioning is no longer impaired.