What is cognitive therapy?


New Member
difficult child's doctor suggested today that cognitive therapy might be helpful for difficult child. I wasn't at the appointment. (husband's first appointment. alone with difficult child and he did a great job) and husband didn't ask what it was. What is it? Is it helpful for a 9 yr old? Another doctor mentioned it in the past but said he was too young.

Any info would be great!


In studies, CBT works almost as well as medications for depression (among teens and adults) and medications and therapy were better than medications alone. My son's psychiatrist uses a combination of therapies. This has been helpful for my son, but not as helpful as the medications.This is a definition from Wikipedia:

A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapy based on modifying everyday thoughts and behaviors, with the aim of positively influencing emotions. The general approach developed out of behavior modification and Cognitive Therapy, and has become widely used to treat mental disorders. The particular therapeutic techniques vary according to the particular kind of client or issue, but commonly include keeping a diary of significant events and associated feelings, thoughts and behaviors; questioning and testing assumptions or habits of thoughts that might be unhelpful and unrealistic; gradually facing activities which may have been avoided; and trying out new ways of behaving and reacting. Relaxation and distraction techniques are also commonly included. CBT is widely accepted as an evidence-based, cost-effective psychotherapy for many disorders. It is sometimes used with groups of people as well as individuals, and the techniques are also commonly adapted for self-help manuals and, increasingly, for self-help software packages.


Active Member
I couldn't have put it better myself. CBT is getting much better results and without the need for medications as a main way of treating the problem. But ti does require some level of personal awareness and ability to cooperate when it comes to modifying thought processes, which could well be why it was not considered when he was younger.

it basically involves changing the way we think about ourselves and the problems we are dealing with. This sounds simplistic - it isn't. It's a great deal more than just positive thinking, but that's a start.

I would certainly be giving it a go.



Well-Known Member
I think it's great. I have one book on it and keep going back to it for my own use. We could all use it.
I've used it for my fear of flying... it's a lot of work, so for a little kid, it depends upon the child's maturity and skill level. For eg. the night b4 a flight, I'd lie in bed, panicking, and not sleep a wink. Using cognitive therapy, I'd have to say, "I'm safe in bed, I'm not even on a plane right now, and I need to sleep." Those thoughts had to replace thoughts of everything from turbulence to crashing to terrorists. I realize that some of those thoughts are legitimate, but statistically, flying is no worse than crossing the street and risking being hit by a drunk driver.
So you repeat and repeat the "Good" thoughts. It's a lot of work (I know I already said that, but it really is work.)
It's sometimes hard to identify exactly which are the incorrect thoughts, so in the beginning, it helps to have a therapist.

If there are other people involved, it helps to have everyone practice role playing and scripting. Eg, it's typical for newlyweds to take things personally (or in the case of my mother, take everything personally!!!) and catastrophize. Eg if the husband says, "Let's go to a movie tonight," and the wife says, "Great!" she gets all dressed up, ready to go, and at the last min., husband says, "I can't find any movies I want to go to."
Wife has a fit, says "You don't love me," they get into a big fight.
Of course husband should have consulted wife waaay earlier in the day about the type of movie, and finding nothing he liked, should have said, "I'd like to spend the evening with you alone, but I'm really disappointed that there aren't any good movies out there."
The fact is that he didn't find any movies he liked... he never said he didn't like/love his wife.

It sounds really simple.
It's not. I repeat, it's hard work.
But well worth it.


Active Member
There are many variations but essentially CBT is dealing with perceptions, relieving emotional stress etc through discussions. Collaborative problem solving CPS from the explosive child is similar to DBT - dialectical behavior therapy. The first part is validating of a person's feelings which corresponds to the empathy, compassionate-reflective listening + reassurance . Once the person feels understood and their feelings validated one can move forward to defining the problem , putting concerns on the table and then problem solving. I don't really like the classical CBT , because it focuses on the self , in my humble opinion many problems are due to a person not being able to think beyond themselves , take perspectives , poor coping and working with skills. The classical approach is if you remove emotional stress , people will think straight . Greene is saying if you give kids the skills , you teach them to think straight , to come up with various alternative solutions they are less likely to be frustrated. I would rather invest in a good buddy-tutor , older sister than a therapist.



I've personally done a bit of both. For me, I find DBT more helpful than CBT. In my mind CBT is focusing on making me more self-aware of my emotions, eg journal as mentioned above. The DBT skills class is more organized for one and more focused on my functional ability in the world rather than in my own head. Lousy explanation but best I can do right now... and only my experience.

I have not heard of either for kids in a formal way. Normal talk therapy does a bit of both. There is a DBT skills class for teens starting here but younger than that I'd question.

Along the same lines, a book called