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What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
Cognitive behavioural therapy works in three different ways. Unlike medications that simply cover up symptoms, CBT will not only soothe and manage difficult emotions and behaviours but it also has a higher long-term success rate at curing and resolving difficult emotions and behaviours indefinitely.
The ‘Cognitive’ part of CBT:
Cognition in it’s most basic definition is the thinking process. Apart from in extreme cases, we are all born with the ability to think. Therefore CBT is wide ranging and works on children (and adults) of varying needs and abilities.
Cognition is a process, one step always follows the other, but sometimes, when we are faced with difficult, emotional or complex situation our cognition process can receive, retain and recall the wrong message. This in turn, results in an unwanted display of behaviour.
The ‘Behaviour’ part of CBT:
Behaviour, therefore, is a reaction. It is what you see as a result of what someone is thinking. For instance, most children enjoy parties, if we break down a party into bite-sized chunks – socialising, eating, loud music and dancing for instance – at some point, those who enjoy parties have experienced each bite size chunk positively, retained that information and recall it at the mention or thought of a party and their reaction is likely to be positive.
However, if a child has received a negative experience, thought or feeling of even just a single bite-size chunk relating to the part environment that they retain and recall at the mention or thought of a party, then anxieties will build. What you see (their behaviour) will be the child reacting to their thoughts and feelings.
The ‘Therapy’ part of CBT:
Therefore, as a parent, if you react to their display of behaviour – with a punishment, shout or even an overly emotive ‘molly-coddling’ response you would empower their anxieties.
In order to change a behaviour we must work with the cognitive process. Especially when it comes to extreme or patterned behaviours.
A patterned behaviour is habitual behaviour that occurs when we feed our cognitive process with the same information again and again. If we are continually receiving mixed or negative messages regarding parties, then even if we experience the odd positive message our ‘go-to’ behaviour remains our habitual one – negative. However, if we see past the display of behaviour and work with ‘the child within’ we can feed new positive messages regarding parties (or any other thought process that has resulted in unwanted or extreme reactions) to create a new behaviour pattern and new ‘go-to’ reactions that are positive.
CBT vs Medication
Modern medicine saves lives. We aren’t debating that. But in order to move on from the majority of mental health conditions it is necessary to ‘work through’ them using a form of therapy that helps us to re-process our thoughts, feelings and reactions and bring them back into an alignment that allows us to become more resilient and live a positive and fulfilling life.
It’s giving the child an ability to think differently before they act.
Why do we work with parents and not directly with the children?
Children learn via their cognitive process. They are constantly receiving and retaining information from everything they see, do, hear, witness, touch, taste… but children are psychologically ‘tuned in’ with their primary carer. Therefore, cognitive behavioural therapy is quicker, more effective and longer lasting when it is delivered via the parent. It creates a bond, an open relationship, a trust and a understanding between parent and child that helps not only with the primary goal of solving the problem behaviour but it unites the parent and child and forms a bond that allows them to tackle future difficulties.
Why separate the child from the very person from whom they are asking for help? When a child displays anger, aggression, anxiety or any other extreme behaviour it is almost always directed at their primary carer. You get the worst of it, we get it. But that is because they are communicating a frustration or lack of understanding to you and they are fundamentally opening the door and asking for your help to fix it.
So that’s exactly what we believe to be the best solution.
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