Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adolescents

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic approach based on the idea that a person’s emotions and thoughts are responsible for how they behave and feel. Other types of therapy may examine events that took place in the past. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy places more emphasis on what is happening in the present.

The therapy can show adolescents how their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are connected. CBT can help with learning to turn negative thought patterns into positive ones. Making it easier to improve mental and emotional health, overcome behavioral disorders, and accomplish goals.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Adolescents

Core Principles of CBT

The method is a very effective treatment for adolescents suffering from depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain, and anxiety disorders. CBT is also known to help manage many other mental health issues. Research suggests that Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is just as effective, if not more, than other forms of psychological therapy or psychiatric medications.

According to the American Psychological Association, CBT is based on some of the following core principles:

At MCAW, our program offers teens the skills needed to build a healthy foundation. We understand emotional and behavioral challenges’ impact on the entire family. We have developed a comprehensive day program to support teens and their families as they find their path to better mental health. If your teen struggles with mental health, enroll them today with Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness.

Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking.

Psychological problems are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.

People suffering from psychological problems can learn better ways of coping, relieving their symptoms, and becoming more effective in their lives.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Adolescents

The Benefits of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is a popular treatment option for trained mental health professionals because it can provide fast, highly effective results for all ages. 

Benefits of CBT can include:

Experiencing a personalized therapy session meant to treat specific mental and behavioral issues

Learning more about how thoughts can impact feelings and behavior

Receiving helpful tools and strategies that may help resolve problems, accomplish goals, and eliminate or reduce symptoms

May complete treatment faster than with another type of therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Adolescents

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How Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Works

CBT is based on the belief that when experiencing an event, it can activate a thought that may be negative, irrational, or distorted. Typically the thought pattern is automatic and occurs frequently enough that it may become a deep-seated belief over time. These patterns can impact feelings in the moment or reactions to situations.

Cognitive Distortions

The first step of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy treatment usually involves investigating whether cognitive distortions are present. If they are, therapists will begin by teaching how to re-frame thoughts.  

Examples of cognitive distortions that harm mental and emotional well-being over time can include:

  • Catastrophizing – Immediately jumping to the worst possible conclusion with minimal information
  • Overgeneralizing – Making a broad assumption about something from limited personal experience
  • Dismissing – Simply discounting or dismissing all the positive aspects that are currently happening in life
  • Emotional Reasoning – Making conclusions about something based only on an emotion at the time
  • Labeling – Assigning negative labels based on one bad experience in the past
  • Blaming – Blaming others for feelings instead of taking accountability
  • “What if” – Constantly ruminating and asking “what if” questions almost every day
  • Negative Filtering – Hyper-focusing on faults or the negative aspects of life and ignoring the positive
  • Mind Reading – Assuming that they can read people’s thoughts and project their insecurities, they believe others have a generally negative opinion of them
  • Fortune-Telling – Predicting something negative or catastrophic will happen in the future
  • Dichotomous Thinking – Black or white thinking or being unable to see the nuances in people or situations
  • Unable to Disconfirm – Rejecting any evidence that may contradict any negative beliefs

Tools of CBT

It’s not uncommon for one negative thought to have a domino effect. This domino effect can cause feelings to worsen more than they should about a situation. The thought patterns can also lead to displays of destructive behaviors that may cause harm to themselves or other people. When left unchecked, a negative thinking pattern can have very poor consequences on the overall quality of life.

Once the cognitive distortions are identified, the mental health professional can show how to do the following during their treatment sessions:

  • Facing inner fears
  • Interrupting reoccurring negative thought patterns as soon as possible
  • Reevaluating the negative thoughts objectively before affecting feelings or behaviors
  • Replacing negative thoughts with positive or neutral thoughts
  • Gaining a better understanding of the behavior and motivation of others
  • Improving self-confidence
  • Using tools and problem-solving skills to better cope with difficult situations
  • Calming down and regulating emotions
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Adolescents

Mental and Behavioral Issues That Can Be Treated Using CBT

CBT can help treat or improve a wide range of mental health and behavioral issues, including:

CBT at the Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness - Near Boston

At the Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness (MCAW), we specialize in offering Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy services in Boston specifically for adolescents. Our highly experienced healthcare professionals are passionate about providing the best treatment to teens and adolescents. 

We work with adolescents who may be struggling with mental health, behavioral, and emotional issues. Together, we can give them the tools that will empower them to improve their life. Our primary aim is to support teens as they start living the life they have always imagined. Continue learning more about our therapies

Please contact us today to learn more about our CBT services. One of our team members would be happy to provide more information about all of our mental health services in detail.

Clinically Reviewed by:

Dr. Melanie Carbonneau PhD, LMHC, MT-BC

Dr. Melanie Carbonneau PhD, LMHC, MT-BC

Melanie Carbonneau is the Clinical Director at Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness and is a licensed counselor and certified music therapist with a Ph.D. from Lesley University. She leads MCAW with a focus on holistic care, emphasizing the importance of family and community involvement in the healing process.