How do you teach CBT to children under 12?

This was a difficulty raised in the survey I conducted in the last newsletter.  As you probably know the current recommended age for starting CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is about 7 years.  Yet many of the concepts presented are challenging for 7 year olds.  Teaching cognitive strategies to primary aged children always requires patience and lots of simple practice examples to teach the thought feeling connection and using realistic thinking to overcome worries (I work with lots of anxious kids).

Worksheets stepping kids through the process are part of the process of teaching CBT but I also use several games to make the learning fun.

Land of Psymon is the best game I have seen to teach cognitve strategies.  The game is appealing, kids comment it is like Pokemon, and they are keen to try and catch the cards with 'psychological monsters' 

I am really enjoying the resources that I have been purchasing from Therapy Tools, the children are loving the board games and I am finding that it is a more interactive and fun approach for the children to learn and apply CBT skills, the Psymon cards have also proved very popular with adult clients as a way to make identification of irrational thoughts more fun!
Belinda Pike, Psychologist, Queensland

 Other great games to help you teach CBT skills include

Puzzled - problem solving

Use Your I's - assertion

The Feelings Game - CBT

The Stress Management Game - CBT

Solution City - Problem Solving



Three essential steps to help create the best environment to help adolescents start talking.

Building rapport with a reluctant teen can have the most experienced therapist feeling under pressure.

One of my colleagues has just ventured into treating adolescents and asked me "How do you do that all the time?" after a particular long session with very little communication from his adolescent patient.  There are never any guarantees when it comes to helping teens to open up but there are some things that will help the process.

Step 1:  Make sure the waiting room has interesting things for adolescents such as age appropriate books and magazines.  If they have to wait for you then items of interest can help them to feel more relaxed.

Step 2:  Check if they want their parent in the room to start or if they want to come in alone.  Giving an adolescent some control over the session can help with building rapport.  

Step 3:  Acknowledge that it wasn't their choice to come along.  Questions such as "Why do you think mum and dad have dragged you in to see me?' is better than asking about their problem.  

The above informatin is a very basic example of some steps used in rapport building.  Even though we promote games, I would always use them with caution when starting out with an adolescent.