CBT for Young People
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Young People
If you are suffering from anxiety, persistent low mood, worry, difficulty managing social situations, sleep disturbance or trouble with relationships, CBT may be helpful for you. The sign that things need addressing is that your feelings are getting in the way of what you want to do. When feelings interfere with life - such that you are no longer enjoying college, can't go to parties, find crowds difficult, and spend increasing amounts of time alone, or upset - then it is time to take action.
The symptoms listed here, and other common symptoms of emotional distress can respond well to CBT
Tired all the time, but not sleeping or over-sleeping? Lost your appetite, or comfort-eating? Feeling low, and being plagued by negative thoughts and a sense that the future is hopeless? Having thoughts about death or that your friends and family would be better off if you were not around?* If you are having feelings like these, the chances are that you are depressed. *Suicidal thoughts are dangerous, and if you are experiencing these, you should tell someone you trust, see your GP or talk to The Samaritans, www.samaritans.org. Do not delay. Protect yourself from depression today.
Do you wake in the morning feeling breathless or nervous, with your heart racing and stomach churning? Do these physical symptoms worry you, and even stop you doing things? If so you may be suffering from symptoms of panic.
If you are underweight (or overweight), markedly restricting your food intake, fearful of certain types of food, relying on food for comfort, or binging and then making yourself sick, the chances are you are suffering from an eating disorder.
OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Do you find yourself plagued by thoughts of harming someone you love or worried that you might have harmed somebody, or be tempted to do so in the future? Do you take an extra long time to wash your hands or find yourself repeated washing or checking before you can leave the house? Do you find yourself counting in your head, or tapping your foot a certain number of times before you can continue what you are doing? If you have any of these or similar symptoms you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). As with all other difficulties listed here, OCD is reasonably common, and can respond well to treatment.
Nervous in social situations? Fearful of crowds? Uncomfortable in queues? Tending to stay at home? Spending too much time worrying at night and not enough time sleeping? Unable to take public transport? Nervous speaking in public? If any of these situations cause you to feel uncomfortable and you find yourself avoiding places and people who make you feel panicky, you may be suffering from anxiety.
How does CBT work
How does CBT work?
CBT is a talking treatment which has been proven to be helpful with problems like those described above. While it might seem impossible to understand how you got into this mess, there is always a reason. And it is your CBT therapist's job to help you to work this out. Your CBT therapist and you are like detectives, examining the evidence to work out what is keeping the trouble going. Together you will decide how you would like to change things. Between you, a plan is devised to help you work towards specific goals. And like your coach for football or hockey, your CBT therapist will help you to develop smart strategies for building up your emotional fitness, regaining confidence, and becoming stronger.
How do I get treatment?
CBT can be accessed via your family doctor or directly by contacting us at CBT Networks. You may ask your parents to call to chat about this, or try an initial assessment session to discuss problems with a therapist and to see whether CBT might be helpful for you.
Your parents will also be invited to an assessment session so that they can support you in treatment and help you with the challenges in between seeing your therapist.
What happens in treatment?
If, after your assessment, you decide to give CBT a try, you will be invited to come to sessions weekly or fortnightly. You can attend alone or with a parent (your therapist will talk to you about this).
Over time, you will build up an understanding of what is keeping problems going and start to work on changing things and trying out new ideas. You and your therapist will work together to build confidence and help you to achieve your goals. At the end of treatment you will have a plan for managing things going forward.
Real examples of patient cases
Jack, 17 years old
Jack was in the last year of his GCSE's when he became ill with a viral infection, which kept him off school for 6 weeks, and it took a further 2 months of recovery before was able to manage full days. He missed a lot of lessons, and had to give up football for several months. There was quite a bit of catch-up when he came back to school. It was harder than Jack expected to get well, and he found that fatigue and muscle pain made it a struggle at school. In particular he relied on friends to help him get from lesson to lesson, finding the crowds of students and the noise of classes stressful.
Over time, Jack's physical strength returned, but he found that he remained nervous in crowds, relying on familiar friends to accompany him. But the focus was on the exams, which he got through with reasonable enough grades - and he was pleased to get a place at Sixth Form College.
However, as the time to start college approached, Jack found that he was feeling increasingly nervous. He had started to avoid parties, and to see only 2 or 3 friends, preferring to spend time at home rather than wandering around town or kicking about with a football in the park as he had in the past.
When college started he found that he could only manage classes which had familiar friends in them. In others he felt anxious and vulnerable, and couldn't wait to leave. He asked to drop one of his subjects because of this, and began to feel low. It was at this point that Jack realised that loss of confidence was interfering with his life - both at school and at home. He could not go to parties, or manage busy shops, and was becoming increasingly reliant on his mates to get him from 'a-to-b'. He was spending more and more time alone and feeling pretty miserable to boot.In CBT, Jack learned about the links between his worries and his behaviours. Avoiding his feared situations felt good in the short-term, but in the long-term made him feel more fearful. He began a course of graded practice, practising out his fears about social situations and gradually rebuilding his confidence in his ability to cope independently. His ultimate goal is to start a training course in Design and Technology, and he is working towards this by attending college and working part-time at a local shop so that he can practise coping with people.
Emily, 10 years old
A couple of months ago, Emily had started to touch and check things in her room at night before going to sleep.
At first it started as a bit of excessive neatness, getting teddies in the right place, having the duvet just so, and checking the window was closed. But over time it started to take longer to get things 'just right', and Emily's parents had become involved. Emily's routines around bedtime, saying goodnight, and making sure everything was safe and in its right place were taking up to two hours, and were really getting on her nerves.
She felt bad about herself for making Mum and Dad check doors and windows for her, and stay with her until she was asleep. She began to get scared if they went out and even when she had her favourite babysitter she would phone them repeatedly to check if they were safe, and wait up until they came home. Things were pretty miserable, and she had no idea how to get out of the muddle.
In CBT, Emily was able to talk about her fears and worries and she worked towards specific goals (no longer checking windows and doors, going to bed alone, having a babysitter and not checking in with Mum and Dad) by gradually challenging herself to cut back on checking and take steps towards being more independent at night. She has experimented with having a babysitter and plans to do this regularly (once per week) as this allows her to practise not checking in, and the babysitter is fun!
What other young people have said about CBT with us
“I would recommend you to anyone and actually have many times to friends. My life isn't perfect yet and I understand that it won't ever be because I'll always want my mum but now I can feel that I'm not a disappointment to her and have a life which she can be proud of ... I feel able to tackle my own problems so much better now... Uni is such a dream come true right now and I have a group of friends that I never thought I could have considering how much I hated myself and don't feel completely defined by my pain and that's something I needed so desperately. Emma, 17 year old student whose mother died when in Emma's final year of GCSE's.
“CBT was very useful - it helped me level my mood and keep it positive. It helped bring me out of some very dark places. I found that counselling never really seemed to work for me and CBT was the only thing that did help. I learned so much about self-management and how to control certain emotions...I am now much happier and I can get on and enjoy life. Harry - 15 year old student, who suffered with depression for which he had 12 sessions of CBT.