What is CBT? And how does it work for children and young people?

24 February 2022

Finding support for a child or young person with mental health challenges can be a question-filled process. It often starts with “what is happening to my child?” and “how can I best support them?”. But over time, as you come across different psychological concepts and phrases, those questions become more specific. Somewhere along that journey, it’s likely you’ll find yourself asking “what is CBT?” and “how can it help my child?”.

CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, a form of talking therapy that is widely available through the NHS and organisations like Healios that work in partnership with the NHS. CBT is an evidence-based therapy that helps children and young people to make sense of their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It can be used to support people of all ages with low mood, depression, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other common mental health challenges.

Unlike other forms of therapy, CBT explores current issues rather than past experiences. Instead of focusing solely on a child or young person’s difficulties, a CBT therapist or clinician will also take time to understand their strengths, hopes and goals. Over a series of sessions, a child or young person will work through supportive exercises with their clinician to build resilience and develop better coping skills.


Why is CBT so popular?


  • It’s backed by research: Many studies show CBT can be used to effectively treat a range of mental health conditions for adults, teens and children.
  • It’s time-limited: CBT delivers results relatively quickly compared to other forms of therapy. It tends to be offered for a set number of sessions rather than on a long-term basis.
  • It’s flexible: CBT can be delivered face-to-face or online, making it more accessible than other therapies.


How do young people access CBT at Healios?


Healios is an expert provider of online CBT for children and young people aged between five and 25. All of our services meet high clinical standards and we are proud to have received a NICE endorsement for our approach to CBT.

We work in partnership with NHS services throughout the UK, including CAMHS and other services that refer children and young people for mental health, autism and ADHD support. Children and young people typically come to Healios for CBT following a referral from their local service. Some young people who come to Healios for a mental health assessment later access CBT at Healios, too.

Once we receive a referral from your local service, we’ll be in touch to schedule an appointment for your child. Because our team includes more than 220 registered clinicians, we can provide quick access to appointments, with most children and young people being seen within two months of referral.


How does online CBT work at Healios?


All Healios appointments are delivered by experienced clinicians online using our digital platform, Panacea. This means your child can access support from a space they feel comfortable without having to travel to or spend time in an unfamiliar clinical setting. With Panacea, you can chat with your clinician over video, view session notes, manage appointments and ask family members to join sessions, even if they are logging in from different locations.

CBT sessions usually take place weekly for a minimum of ten weeks, with each session lasting for 50 minutes. During your child’s first appointment, your clinician will spend some time getting to know them and the challenges they are currently facing. They’ll explain what CBT is, how it works and why it might be helpful for your child. It’s important that your child feels safe and supported so they can get the most from their sessions. Their clinician will provide an open and inclusive environment where your child can share their feelings.

Each session will be tailored to help your child achieve their personal goals. In addition to spending time listening to your child, the clinician will take them through on-screen exercises to help them better understand the links between their thoughts and feelings. Your child may also be given exercises to work on or supportive tools to use at home to reinforce what they’ve learned in their sessions.

Once your child has completed their sessions and is ready to be discharged from Healios, you’ll be given a health and wellbeing plan, as well as information on extra support that’s available in your area.

CBT is a powerful therapy that can transform how children and young people think about their challenges, which in turn can lead to positive changes in how they experience the world and connect with others. Healios’ thoughtful clinicians are experts at delivering interactive and engaging CBT sessions remotely. To find out more about how we can support your family, click the “Contact us” button below.

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