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Child cognitive behavioral therapy

Once we decide to take our son to therapy, also called psychotherapy, what follows is to know what he will be like, that is, what the therapist will and will not do, the way he will conduct the sessions. This will depend on the approach. This is practically the theory from which you are going to work, that is all the research that was carried out previously to apply any type of technique during the session. The way he will talk to the little one, how and why he will ask certain questions or address topics of interest. Here we share information that we hope will be helpful to learn about one of these approaches. The cognitive-behavioral approach in child therapy or psychotherapy.

What is the cognitive-behavioral approach for children?

The cognitive-behavioral approach has various definitions. In a very simple way, we can say that it is an approach or theory focused on the talk and tasks or activities outside the session. Although the sessions are an important space, it is considered that the greatest work is carried out outside, in everyday life, applying and putting hands to work on the skills that we are learning.

Here we will find, as in most interventions with children, teamwork with parents. However, in this approach, we will talk about an extremely active role on the part of the tutors. Not only in the area of ​​listening or taking them to a session, but on many occasions they will be the main people in charge of applying for the modification programs in the behavioral area if necessary. These little programs refer to changes in the child’s routine.

What are the characteristics of this approach?

This theory has the main basis that all the behavior that children perform is due to reinforcement. In a consequence that rewards them. Let’s give examples. If we work with a child who screams or hits every time he wants a toy, we must identify if when he does these acts he is given a toy, attention, or something that he likes. That would explain why he continues to maintain the behavior.

This is where the parents would come in, applying various techniques that come to modify the environment and the reinforcers. For example, now rewarding or giving attention when the little one asks for things please or when she is not yelling or hitting. Beginning to ignore or not reward what we do not want to continue doing. In this way, we can minimize the behavior but without damaging the child’s emotional area. Normally the main change that is made is to avoid punishment. Contrary to what is believed, punishment can cause the child’s behavior to not change and subsequently increase. To start seeing results, what is most needed is perseverance.

Similarly, another important aspect with which to work is with cognitive structures.
Understand them as the set of all learning. And finally, it also takes up emotional reactions. Let’s say that here we will explore how these three areas (cognitive, behavioral, and emotional) coexist.

What psychologists have come to identify is that on many occasions these areas do not agree and that causes discomfort, for example:

The little boy wants to say that he doesn’t want to play basketball because he doesn’t find it fun (cognitive).

But social pressure, from peers, the teacher, parents, etc. leads him to play (behavioral).

So this lack of coherence between what he thinks and does, leads him to feel anger (emotion).

Which makes him non-functional. In this case, we would begin to reinforce the part of social skills. Analyze why he has such a hard time saying no, even though he is clear about what he wants. For example, the child thinks that he will lose people for saying no, that they will no longer love him in the same way, then they will reject him, etc., in this case, an attempt would be made to modify the cognitive (the way he thinks), to feel safe to say no.

The main goal is to achieve functionality, that is, the little one feels comfortable and his behaviors allow him to socialize adequately to his environment, as well as his emotions and thoughts. It is also important to mention that you work from objectives.

What problems can the cognitive-behavioral approach treat?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most used psychotherapies for children, due to how practical it can be. Although it is a whole process and takes time, the changes can be monitored in a more obvious way through measurements, as the changes begin to be reflected in behavior relatively quickly. It is recommended especially for children with phobias, disruptive behaviors, attention deficit, and special education. Although you can practically address any topic of interest.

Above all, it is an approach that tries to include all aspects of the person, as well as what surrounds them and influences their decisions, emotions, and behaviors. It is highly functional for all ages.

We hope that this article could be of help in making the decision to choose a suitable professional for your son or daughter’s case, above all remember that the idea is that they feel comfortable and can explore the different approaches available.

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