It is common for your child to feel down at times. However, if your child exhibits long-lasting and pervasive low moods and a loss of pleasure in activities they used to find enjoyable, they may be suffering from depression. Other things to look for include changes in their sleeping, appetite, energy levels, and concentration, or even increased irritability and acting out.
CBT is a highly effective treatment for depression that focuses on identifying and modifying your negative thoughts using an evidence-based approach. CBT also focuses on increasing activities and returning you to things that you find enjoyable. Studies also demonstrate that CBT results in a lower relapse rate compared to using medication alone.
Your child will feel anxious or worry on occasion. Their “fight or flight” response is triggered when they feel threatened, much like a smoke detector that goes off when there’s a fire.
Some children have a more sensitive anxiety system and may experience more pervasive anxiety or may find that their system activates when there is no danger, similar to a false alarm of a smoke detector.
Children may experience anxiety in many situations, such as:
- Difficulty in crowded or enclosed spaces
- Anxiety in social situations
- Fears, or phobias, of animals, insects, heights, or blood
- Pervasive worry, or “what if?” type questions
- Health worries, including fear of having or acquiring certain diseases
- Intrusive thoughts that don’t make sense but repeat over and over.
- Re-experiencing a traumatic event
CBT is one of the gold standard treatments for anxiety and is demonstrated to be highly effective in children. CBT works by identifying and modifying their anxious thoughts using an evidence-based approach. We also help them face their fears as evidence shows that repeated exposure to one’s fear can help decrease or eliminate it.
Does your child suffer from Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder and Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder? These disorders are often coping reactions to times of stress with a belief that eating less or more can lessen their emotions. However, these disorders can cause long-term physical, cognitive and emotional problems.
Body image distress, which is also pervasive in our society among children and adolescents, can also be a trigger of maladaptive eating behaviours. Sometimes school or sports teams experience contagion of body image distress.
The under-control or over-control of food intake can have sizeable cognitive and medical consequences, even death when left untreated.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is an evidence-based treatment for eating disorders in adolescence. We work with you and your child to regain a healthy relationship with food and a more balanced and healthy body image.
We focus on taking a team approach involving your child’s other healthcare providers and supportive family members. Family-based approaches can also be highly effective and beneficial for the treatment of eating disorders.
A child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) will exhibit the following symptoms:
- Inattention – trouble focusing and paying attention, difficulty staying on task, forgetting and losing things, having a hard time following a conversation, and difficulty completing tasks or meeting deadlines.
- Hyperactivity and Impulsivity, such as restlessness, fidgeting, interrupting others, and making decisions without thinking them through.
Because some of the symptoms of ADHD can overlap with symptoms of other conditions, a comprehensive assessment is generally required to make a diagnosis for your child. This involves an intake interview, medical history, a review of their academic performance, and cognitive and personality testing.
CBT for ADHD mostly involves behavioural strategies to help improve focus, organization, and prioritization. This allows your child to complete tasks more effectively at home and school.
Some children may find themselves limited due to unwanted and frustrating physical symptoms (e.g. pain, fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms, itch, headache).
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy will help your child cope with unwanted physical symptoms to allow them to manage and soothe their symptoms. This can be a paradoxical approach as our tendency is to wait for symptoms to subside before returning to our full lives. Nevertheless, it can be a highly effective approach to living a life less impacted by physical symptoms.
Chronic Medical Conditions
Your child’s physical and mental health are very connected. Chronic medical issues or pervasive, uncomfortable and distressing physical symptoms may lead to your child suffering from anxiety and depression.
We work with you and your child on how to respond to unwanted physical symptoms and to live a fulfilling life. Learning to work with these sensations rather than resisting them can allow for a more fulfilling life for your child. Treatment can also help improve relationships with their healthcare providers and loved ones. We help you to understand your child’s medical condition and be a strong advocate in their medical care.
Perfectionism is a coping reaction a child may use when they are worried about making a mistake. While perfectionism can be societally reinforced, it may cause your child to feel anxious, isolated, depressed and demoralized even when they appear successful by other peoples’ standards.
CBT is a highly effective treatment for perfectionism. We work with children to challenge their beliefs about “success” and widen their ideas of meaningful and satisfying living.
Grief and Bereavement
Loss of a person or pet they are close to can generate great pain for a child. It can be overwhelming for them to understand and process the loss of a loved one. This can be exacerbated with a sudden death or a complicated relationship.
We offer a supportive, individualized approach. Many emotions arise in the grieving process, and each child’s grieving process is unique. We will support and help you and your child to understand and manage these emotions.
Hair Pulling and Skin Picking
Hair pulling and skin picking may be used by children as coping reactions to strong emotions like anxiety, anger or boredom.
CBT, and more specifically habit reversal training, can be very effective in reducing or eliminating these behaviours and addressing the underlying emotions. We work with children to identify the patterns of these behaviours and to try to prevent the triggers or replace these behaviours with new, more helpful coping mechanisms.