CBT for Teens

CBT for Adolescents

The teenage years can be a challenging time, and teens are just as vulnerable to psychological problems as are adults.

It is estimated that 20% of Canadian youth experience mental health issues, and that 70% of adult mental health problems started during the adolescent years. In Canada, a staggering 3.2 million teens between the ages of 12-19 are at risk of depression. The good news is that research has shown that intervention can help teens effectively overcome mental health issues.

CBT treatment can help your teen by teaching them techniques to change their internal thinking patterns and improve their mood. Cognitive behavioural therapy can have positive effects on teens for several mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, stress, and more.

What is CBT for Teens?

CBT is a form of psychotherapy and an effective treatment for teens that can produce long-lasting improvements in their mental well-being, as demonstrated by empirical evidence.

Cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on helping teens make the connections between thoughts, behaviour and feelings. They learn to understand their triggers and use coping mechanisms to modify distorted thinking patterns and provide relief from their negative symptoms. CBT helps teens change the outcome of personal relationships, situations, and overall experiences in life.

CBT for teens is a short-term therapy program, taking place over 8 to 16 sessions. CBT is an empirical therapy program based on scientific evidence and including a long list of success stories. Studies have found that 55% of teens who receive CBT treatment were diagnosis free at the posttreatment assessment.

Doctors may choose to use CBT in place of prescription medication or combined with medication to help your teen better navigate life.

Who Should Receive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Teenagers?

Any teen experiencing symptoms including, but not limited to, low mood, anxiety, stress, or depression can benefit from CBT.

Teenage years can be challenging to navigate: with puberty and hormone changes, this is a vulnerable time for teens, and they can struggle, affecting their mood and behaviour. If you notice that your teen has become irritable, their mood is low, or they are generally going through a challenging time, CBT treatment can help.

By obtaining the necessary learned behaviour modifications to manage negative and stress symptoms as they appear, teens can lead healthy, happy lives and build lasting relationships with their peers.

How do Negative Thoughts Affect Your Teen?

Negative thought patterns affect your teen’s daily life and also impact the way they view themselves.

If your teen is going through a challenging time, some of the symptoms you may notice include:

  • A drop in grades at school
  • Antisocial behaviour
  • Fatigue
  • Unusual sleeping and eating routines
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Problems with communication
  • Avoiding extracurricular activities

If you notice these symptoms, speak with your doctor and our experts at the Cognitive & Interpersonal Therapy Centre.

What to expect in CBT sessions for teens?

Entering a new therapeutic approach to mental health is daunting, but the Cognitive & Interpersonal Therapy Centre is careful to ease your teen into CBT treatment.

Before your teenager meets their therapist, they will be asked to prepare a list of everyday situations, people, and activities that cause them to feel uneasy, unsafe, trapped, or anxious. They may also be asked to include a list of short and long-term goals that they hope to achieve over the course of therapy. Cognitive behavioural therapy is a goal-orientated approach that focuses on examining questions between thoughts, feelings and behaviours, helping your teen change their thought patterns and behaviours.

At the initial session, your teenager will explain a little bit about themselves, how they feel, what negative impacts they see from current emotions and thought patterns and the kind of progress they would like to make as therapy continues. After the initial assessment session, they will begin to develop a deeper understanding of themselves, their emotions, and how to cope with negative situations, life stressors and people, effectively.

Cognitive behavioural therapy for teenagers is not a magic switch that turns all negative emotions into positive ones. Rather, it helps your teen understand the root of those negative emotions and develop a strategy to change the negativity to find a positive resolution.

Getting the Most Out of CBT for Teens

CBT for teens has a high success rate, but your teen can take steps to improve your chances of a positive experience, including:

  • Keeping an Open Mind: Closing yourself off to the possibility of a new approach to managing mental wellness impedes the ability of that new therapy to work. Be open to the potential CBT has to improve your life.
  • Communicate Your Feelings: If you feel like CBT is not working for you, tell your therapist. An open door of communication is key to successful CBT. This helps your therapist better understand what you want from your sessions and what they are missing.
  • Be Patient: Cognitive behaviour therapy takes time because you are essentially retraining your brain. Learning a new habit takes up to a month. You may notice some changes happen quickly, while others take some time.

Being honest with yourself and your therapist will help you stay focused and achieve your goals. CBT requires a lot of deep thinking and self-exploration, so be ready to learn more about yourself.

Contact the Cognitive & Interpersonal Therapy Centre

If you are interested in learning more about CBT for teens, we invite you to contact the Cognitive & Interpersonal Therapy Centre. Reach out to us by calling 1-416-570-5050 or using our online contact page.

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