Cognitive behavior therapy

Cognitive behavior therapy is a psychological treatment that can teach both parents and children coping strategies for dealing with chronic conditions. It works by teaching patients to modify their thoughts and behaviors in response to a situation, such as pain or anxiety about a procedure, so that they can function in a more positive way. For example, instead of dwelling on pain and staying home from school, your child could learn how to stay positive and engage in a distracting activity until the painful episode is over. Although this doesn’t eliminate the pain entirely, by decreasing the focus on it, your child could experience the pain less intensely and be better able to function.

Over time, cognitive behavior therapy can actually change the brain’s makeup and become a lifelong tool. Both children and parents need to be committed to working on thought-challenging activities in order for this therapy to be successful, but research shows that it can be more effective than medication in treating some conditions.

Cognitive behavior therapy works well with children ages 8 and older. Younger children might need a modified approach because they are less able to identify their thought processes, but they can still benefit from deep breathing and other relaxation strategies.

Many of the providers in Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Program are trained in cognitive behavior therapy. Treatment plans vary with child, but this therapy approach often involves weekly therapy sessions for 6-8 weeks initially and then as often as the child needs to maintain and use these skills to successfully manage his or her condition.

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