CBT for Children and Young People

CBT for Children and Young People

“It’s the small steps we take that help us achieve our long term goals.” 

Building on the therapeutic relationship

When meeting with children and young people for the very first time, one of the most important skills is to be able to begin building on the therapeutic relationship.  This is something that is essential with clients of all ages but especially so when working with children and young people.  By helping them to understand from the very start that whilst parents or school might arrange appointments on their behalf, the sessions are for the young person.  The role of the therapist is to listen, explore and work collaboratively with the young person to address the presenting problems. 

One strategy that I have found to be helpful when initiating sessions with younger children is by working as a team and working through activities to develop an understanding of their emotional literacy.  It is both a fun and informative way that is useful when starting out with new clients.  Beginning to explore someone’s likes and dislikes whilst also observing social skills provides further evidence and information when carrying out an initial assessment with a child or young person.  Other ways of engaging young people in the initial sessions involve using stories, work sheets and other therapy resources. 

Engaging young people from the onset

The key to engaging a young person in a successful therapy journey is to ensure a young person feels at ease coming to sessions, to be able to discover their likes and dislikes to obtain a positive therapy outcome.

What is the process?

Initial Consultation

The purpose of this session is to establish a basic understanding of what the child is feeling and thinking. It is an opportunity to talk about any previous therapy experiences, if they were helpful and what worked for the individual.

During this appointment we will explain the role of therapy and how the concept of  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy  can be beneficial in challenging the presenting difficulties. For children the focus is on the behavioural part.


Following the consultation, a block of four appointments will be arranged to complete an initial assessment including further information about the presenting problem or challenges. By the end of the appointments, it should be clear as to whether CBT is going to be beneficial to meet the client’s needs.

If it is decided that this method is suitable, we will work together to create a therapy goal to work towards and help the client overcome any problem areas.


Therapy Sessions

If Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is considered to be an appropriate method we will arrange six appointments, this is so that we are all aware of how many sessions are remaining and can actively review the goals.

During these sessions we will work as a team and begin to cognitively repair the way the client currently processes thoughts, feelings and behaviours relating to the identified problem areas and come up with a plan.

What Comes Next?

After the six sessions are completed, and we have reviewed the goals, we will have a clear understanding of the individual challenges and the progress that has been made. If the client or therapist decides additional sessions will be beneficial, this will be decided together and booked in.

The client will have the resilience to prevent future relapse and feel equipped with coping mechanisms to support their thought process in challenging situations.


“Catherine had a good relationship with our daughter which helped her to engage with the service and therapy. We think our daughter will have a better understanding going forward and it has been a positive experience for her and us as parents.”

Parent of a 15 yr old girlThemeNectar