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Assessing adolescent behavior with cognitive behavioral therapy

March 26, 2015 0 Comments

cognitive behavioral therapy and adolescence

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is one of the most commonly used treatments in mental health and it may be telling when it comes to determining and influencing adolescent behavior. Yet such behavior may not always be what it seems. The methodology of CBT can provide valuable insight into why teens think or behave the way they do.

CBT and adolescent depression

Teens that undergo treatment for depression will often also go through cognitive behavioral therapy with a medical professional. This will allow the adolescent to outline the emotions and thoughts that are troubling, as well as events that are associated with this. For example, the teen may have negative automatic thoughts that are associated with a certain scenario. Goals will be set for the patient, though these should be realistic in nature. A teen may be asked to complete an assignment, similar to homework, before the next session takes place. Studies have shown that this therapy is one of the most effective treatments for teen depression. It has been shown to be helpful for about 80 percent of those who partake in it.

CBT and Adolescent Anxiety

A young person may also experience anxiety due to a host of different circumstances. Perhaps he fixates on himself to a degree that is seen as obsessive or is overly apprehensive about self evaluation. There may also be a tendency to avoid situations that are cause for anxiety, as in the case of social anxiety disorder. This disorder has also been shown to be positively affected by cognitive behavioral therapy in research. Medication, in combination with CBT, has been shown to improve symptoms in about 80 percent of such patients as well.

CBT and school performance

Either one of these disorders, along with other complications, may lead a teen to attempt what is known as school refusal. He may not want to go because of fear of social interaction or performing academically. Not wanting to do homework may also be seen as a form of school refusal. Yet cognitive behavioral therapy may yet again prove to be helpful in this case. This treatment method will look closely at why a young person feels the way they do about school and how to adapt more positive, beneficial forms of behavior.

In one study, participating students that underwent cognitive behavioral therapy were shown to have an increased level of school attendance and experience less stress associated with attending school. The students were shown to have better coping skills in school when it came to situations that may precipitate anxiety. There was also less of a likelihood of depression for those that took part in the therapy. Therefore, even though school refusal may still be viewed as its own separate adolescent struggle, this therapy may nonetheless help with feelings of depression and anxiety that students experience as a result of school.

CBT and substance abuse

Cognitive behavioral therapy may also be utilized for young people that are suffering from substance abuse. In this treatment, teens will identify their problems, many of which may occur as a result of using illicit drugs. They will then focus on developing better coping strategies, which effectively eliminates problem behaviors. Eventually, patients will enter a phase of relapse prevention, in which they will work to find a means of avoiding substance abuse and its related consequences in the future. This therapy has also been shown to be effective, both lowering instances of abuse of marijuana and other controlled substances, as well as the intake of alcohol to a lesser degree.

Advantages for development

When a parent suspects that a teen may be suffering from either a health disorder or substance abuse, it may be difficult to convince him to seek treatment as a result. Teens are often sensitive about how they are perceived by others, especially their peers. It will be important to remind them at this time that their treatment will be confidential, so that they need not worry about such information getting into the wrong hands.

Another positive aspect of treatment is that young people who deal with a health disorder or substance abuse earlier in life can often have better odds of coping with such troubles in adulthood. Teens are impressionable and still developing physically, as well as cognitively. Therefore, this age group can have an advantage in therapy, as the brain is still in the process of reaching more complete adult development. Cognitive behavioral therapy has the potential to catch certain problems early enough and allow the sufferer to lead a more normal and healthy life.

White River Academy offers the finest standard in treatment for boys that are experiencing difficulties such as a developmental disorder or substance abuse. This includes cognitive behavioral therapy, which has been shown to retrain a patient’s thoughts and behaviors to better adapt to their environment. We also offer additional forms of individualized treatment to better suit each client’s own journey to recovery. To help yourself or a loved one get started today, please contact our admissions team at 866-300-0616.

Written by Ryan McMaster, Sovereign Health Group writer

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