Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a staple mode of therapy in the United States. Many newer psychological breakthroughs are built upon principles of CBT, and most people who have pursued therapy for mental illnesses have had some exposure to this treatment. CBT is also used to help teens and adolescents through any mental health concerns and give them general coping strategies.
History of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
According to StatPearls, cognitive-behavioral therapy was created by Aaron Beck, and thoroughly researched by many renowned scientists and psychiatrists. CBT has been modified and built to be able to treat a variety of disorders. CBT is able to treat people of all ages, from children to the elderly, and can be specifically adapted for teens.
Aaron Beck formed this mode of therapy as he studied what he called, “the aspects of cognition.” These include:
- Automatic Thoughts: These are a person’s immediate reaction to an event currently unfolding. Automatic thoughts can shape the person’s analysis of the event. For example, if a person were to pass a car on the road and waved at the other driver who didn’t wave back, automatic thoughts may cause the person to believe negative things about the other driver rather than assume they simply didn’t see or react quickly enough. This is a thought that happens suddenly.
- Cognitive Distortions: These are errors in logic that many people with mental health concerns are prone to. These can be characterized in several ways:
- Dichotomous thinking: the assumption that there are two mutually exclusive categories with no shades of grey between.
- Selective Abstraction: Focusing only on certain, often negative aspects of something.
- Overgeneralization: Taking isolated cases and using them to make wild generalizations.
- Disqualifying the Positive: Positive experiences conflict with the negative thoughts a person has, so they are completely excluded.
- Minimization: Acknowledging the positive as real but not significant.
- Mind reading: Assuming the thoughts of others.
- Fortune Telling: Predicting what they think will happen instead of what does.
- Catastrophizing: Predicting the worst possible outcome and deciding it’s true.
- Emotional Reasoning: Making decisions based on how they feel rather than reasoning.
- “Should” Statements: Focusing on the “should” or “ought to” of things rather than the actual situation. Also can have the belief that rigid rules need to be upheld in situations that don’t call for them.
- Personalization, Blame, or Attribution: Assuming they are solely responsible or the direct cause of the problem.
- Underlying beliefs or schemas: These can be categorized further into two groups:
- Core Beliefs: The most fundamental level of belief. These may be central ideas about themselves and the world and can be rigid and unforthcoming.
- Intermediate Beliefs: These consist of assumptions, attitudes, and rules that are influenced by the development of their core beliefs.
How CBT Works
Cognitive behavior therapy works by taking the above thoughts, distortions, and beliefs, and making them known to the client. The client will assess what they struggle with and try to identify how their thinking affects their behavior and their choices. Does it affect their overall happiness? Their anxiety? Their fears and worries? Their sadness?
Informed Health states CBT does this by combining the practice of cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy, as the name implies. For the cognitive therapy side, the client is asked to assess their thoughts. This means they are consciously thinking about and analyzing their thoughts. This can seem redundant but is effective once the client recognizes patterns from aspects of cognition listed above. They may realize that their thoughts are clouded by some of these aspects and feel clearer once they analyze where they may have made errors in their thought processes.
For the behavioral therapy side, the client is asked to look at the behaviors they have that stem from their thoughts. Do these thoughts affect their behavior positively or negatively? Oftentimes the client will see where and how their thoughts affect their behaviors and will be able to then change the behavior because they’ve addressed the thoughts. Clients are asked to read their thoughts and behaviors as they stay in the present moment and react in a calm, present state of mind.
What Are the Benefits of CBT For Teens?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can treat a wide range of disorders. In fact, CBT is effective to treat most mental health concerns, even in seemingly generic cases. For teens and adolescents, cognitive-behavioral therapy can be a godsend. This tool can be used to show teens that they have power over their thoughts and behaviors when many teens feel powerless. This can show teens struggling with mental health concerns that they are more than what they feel their mental health limits them to, and can help them heal and feel better about themselves. If your teen is displaying signs that they need some mental health help, talk to your doctor or therapist about CBT today.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a great way to help teens through their mental health concerns, especially if these teens have been exposed to trauma and are living in a constant state of fear. Trauma-driven children tend to respond negatively to anything seen as a threat or trigger. CBT can help the child identify their thoughts, their present-moment safety, and regain control over their own thoughts. If your teen daughter is struggling and you’re not sure what to do to help, call us at Havenwood Academy. Our professional and experienced staff can help guide your teen through what’s ailing them with cognitive-behavioral therapy and many other evidence-based treatments. Using CBT with our other therapies offered, we can help your teen work through their thoughts and behaviors, as well as help them create new plans and strategies for future success. Call us today at (435) 586-2500. We want to help your daughter.
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