I am often contacted by parents who are looking for CBT for their child. I think this is primarily because CBT (or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is put across by the media as being the magic answer to all emotional and mental health problems.
I do think that in some situations, applying the techniques of CBT can very helpful and even key to a person taking steps forward and in these circumstance I will happily use them in my work.
However, I believe there are some dangers in seeing CBT as the answer to everything and I, as a therapist would be short-changing my clients if I used it with everyone. If there is an underlying trauma or issue that needs dealing with, CBT at its’ best will paper over the cracks. It may provide temporary relief but the difficulties will re-emerge (often more severely) at a later stage. At worst, using CBT at the wrong time can lead so some children and young people feeling worse than when they first came to therapy.
So is CBT the “Magic Answer?” Well, research repeatedly shows that a clearer “Magic Answer” is the strength of the therapeutic relationship. If that is in place, CBT – amongst other approaches, can provide a positive way forward for some, but not all, children, young people and adults.