How Does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Help in Treating Kids With Anxiety?

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Anxiety disorder has been among the most common mental disorders in adolescents. Studies have shown that adolescents have a significant anxiety burden, and effective intervention should be planned. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most promising techniques for treating kids with anxiety. This technique focuses on teaching the child to overcome their worries and anxieties by changing how they think and behave. This is done by identifying the negative beliefs contributing to the anxiety and tackling them with the therapist’s help. This is accomplished by analyzing the thoughts, emotions, and physical feelings and identifying the unhelpful ones.

Anxiety is a complex emotion, and kids must be taught how to deal with it. One of the best ways to do this is by breaking down their problems into smaller parts and addressing them in small steps. For example, kids who are anxious about school will have to learn to cope with the fear of going to class and slowly build up their confidence. The therapist will help them find the right way to deal with their fears in every situation by providing them with strategies to cope.

CBT also helps kids to stop avoiding things that make them feel anxious. In the beginning, avoiding these things makes them feel better, but in the long run, it only worsens their anxieties. So instead, CBT teaches them to face their fears and develop coping mechanisms like breathing exercises, mindfulness, and reappraisal.

Children who receive individual and group CBT show similar improvements in their anxiety levels. However, there are some differences in the level of improvement based on their primary diagnosis. For example, the analysis of pooled data by McKinnon et al. (2018) suggests that kids with a primary diagnosis of specific phobia showed more significant reductions in clinical severity than those with a comorbid PTSD or OCD diagnosis.

One of the reasons for these differences could be that anxiety disorders are interrelated, and changing one aspect leads to changes in other aspects. For example, people with panic attacks often interpret their normal bodily sensations in catastrophic ways, which leads to powerful feelings of anxiety. During CBT sessions, the therapist will help them to identify these unhelpful thinking patterns and change them. This leads to a change in emotion and behavior, and the effect is sustained outside of the therapy session.

Parent-led CBT is an effective treatment for kids with anxiety as well. It allows the therapist to work with parents on developing their skills and encourages them to use CBT with their kids at home between sessions. Typically, these sessions are delivered over the telephone or in a hybrid format with accompanying workbooks. This method of delivering CBT is intended to minimize natural parental responses that may inadvertently contribute to maintaining their child’s anxiety.

Parent-led CBT has been shown to have good outcomes compared to the group and individual child-focused CBT when achieving remission from an anxiety disorder. It is also highly cost-effective and can be quickly delivered through several formats.


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