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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was developed in the 1960s by psychiatrist, Aaron Beck. CBT is a structured, short-term, goal-oriented form of psychotherapy that “targets multiple areas of potential vulnerability (e.g., cognitive, behavioral, affective) with developmentally-guided strategies and traverses multiple intervention pathways.” Young people enter adolescence with outdated emotional coping mechanisms. As teenagers mature, they are faced with new challenges that demand more refined and complex coping strategies. CBT encompasses numerous strategies, focusing on an array of topics, such as extinction, habituation, modeling, cognitive restructuring, problem-solving, and the development of coping strategies, mastery, and a sense of self-control. The steps of CBT include the following, provided by Psychology Today:

  1. Identify troubling situations and/ or conditions in your life (e.g., divorce, a medical condition, anger, grief, etc.). 
  2. Become aware of your emotions, thoughts, and beliefs connected to these troubling situations.
  3. Identify inaccurate and/ or negative thinking that may be contributing to your troubles.
  4. Reshape inaccurate and/ or negative thinking. To help facilitate this step, a therapist may encourage you to ask yourself if your view of the situation is based off an inaccurate perception of the situation or off facts. 

CBT is often used with adolescents as it is recognized as an effective treatment method for youth struggling with a wide range of mental health issues including eating disorders, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression. Through CBT an adolescent will learn to understand that the way they behave has a direct correlation with their personal attitudes and emotional problems. The CBT framework aims to help young people break unhealthy behavioral patterns by identifying and replacing dysfunctional patterns with positive thinking patterns. It focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and developing personal coping strategies to problem solve effectively.

Adolescent Psychoanalysis

Child and adolescent psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic (or psychodynamic) psychotherapy are specialized approaches that aim to help a child or adolescent understand and manage feelings more effectively, recognize and change poor coping strategies, and re-examine negative feelings about themselves and others. Columbia University explains that psychoanalysis is typically modified for the developmental level of the child, “With young children, it is an intensive version of play therapy that seeks to address conflicts and developmental impediments to forward progression. With adolescents, the treatment approximates adult psychoanalysis, but the teen is not required to lie on the couch if he or she finds that awkward or uncomfortable.” Psychology Today asserts that psychoanalytic psychotherapy is often more effective than CBT for both children and adults. Research has shown that while both are equally effective in the short term, the effects of psychoanalytic psychotherapy continue long after formal treatment has ended. Psychoanalysis inherently involves areas of the brain that mature earlier in development, which is why adolescents typically benefit more from psychoanalysis rather than CBT.

Further Information and Support

For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.

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