Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) For Children & Adolescents With Anxiety
“Coping Cat” and C.A.T. Project Are Both 16 session CBT Evidence-Based Programs For Children, Adolescents, & Their Caregivers.
Coping Cat is a 16-session cognitive-behavioral treatment program for children ages 7-13 years experiencing problematic levels of anxiety. Parent and caregivers are invited to participate in the program.
The program incorporates four components:
- Recognizing and understanding emotional and physical reactions to anxiety
- Clarifying thoughts and feelings in anxious situations
- Developing plans for effective coping
- Evaluating performance and giving self-reinforcement
The overall goal of Coping Cat is to reduce anxiety and implemented in 50 minutes weekly sessions over a 16-week schedule. Parents are involved in the child-focused (individual treatment) program and meet in sessions 4 and 9, as well as in other sessions as needed for the exposure tasks.
Coping Cat program includes:
- Psychoeducation, involving information for children and families about how anxiety can develop and be maintained, and how it can be treated
- Exposure tasks, which give the child the chance to be in the feared situation and have a mastery experience
- Somatic management, which teaches relaxation techniques
- Cognitive restructuring which addresses FEAR: Feeling frightened, expecting bad things, attitudes and actions that will help, and results and rewards
- Problem-solving to generate and evaluate specific actions for dealing with problems
- For group sessions, four to five participants per group is recommended
C.A.T Project is a sixteen session program for adolescents, twelve to eighteen years, with anxiety. It is cognitive-behavioral in nature, and provides psychoeducation and requires exposure tasks. It is similar to the Coping Cat program for children ages seven to thirteen years old, but with teen visuals, themes, labels, and other materials. The program provides education about anxiety, skills for identifying and managing anxiety, and an approach to face one’s fears and develop mastery. Sessions meet every week for one hour over a sixteen week schedule.
The overall goal of the C.A.T. Project is an emotional adjustment and includes the following essential components:
- Psychoeducation about anxiety
- Changing teen’s self-talk
- Exposure tasks that provide teens with mastery of anxiety
- Learning that anxiety is not overwhelming, is normal, and can be managed
- Optional “Parent Companion” that describes the program that the teen participates in and thereby prepares the parent for the experiences the teen will have, as well as informs the parent of preferred/optimal ways to respond to the anxious teen
- The parent often “accommodates” teen anxiety and the companion program helps the parent see other ways to address teen anxiety.
- The program includes exposure tasks and the Parent Companion helps the parent be prepared for the exposure tasks, and even assist with them.