Many teens struggle with depression. They can feel hopeless, helpless, and alone. Exacerbated by stress at school, at home, and with friends, depression can be a very real and serious problem for adolescents. This mental health concern can impact every aspect of a teen’s life, from academics to socializing. Teens who become severely depressed also face a higher chance of needing to combat depression all through life. However, interventions based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help.
CBT is based on the premise that how a person thinks (cognition) drives how that person feels and acts (behavior). Most people’s thinking and emotions drive their behavior with very little evaluation in between. It’s empowering to learn that you can take control of your thoughts and thereby redirect your own emotions and behavior. In life, difficult situations rarely change, but CBT teaches teens that how they think about the situation and how they react to it can be changed.
What Teens Can Expect in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
During sessions with a cognitive-behavioral therapist, teens will first be asked about the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are troubling them. The therapist will help the teen identify any negative thoughts or cognitive distortions he or she may be having about themselves, others, and the world around them. Once these cognitive distortions are identified, the therapist will help the teen find more balanced, realistic ways of thinking. The therapist will also work with the teen on learning how to react differently to situations that trigger negative thoughts and emotions. This may involve learning and practicing new coping and problem-solving skills.
Things commonly explored during CBT therapy are questions like:
- What is it that I think versus what is it that I feel?
- How do negative thoughts drive negative feelings?
- Some thoughts come unbidden like a well-rehearsed script. Are those thoughts accurate?
- How can I become more aware of my thoughts and how can I redirect them?
- In what ways can I re-write the script that I hear in my mind?
How CBT Can Improve the Symptoms of Depression
CBT has been proven to be an effective intervention for a variety of mental health concerns, including depression. In fact, research has shown that CBT can be just as effective as medication in treating teen depression. What makes this approach so beneficial is that it can help teens not only feel better in the short term, but also teaches them skills that they can use for a lifetime.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for teens can help:
- Reduce negative thinking – Depression can cause teens to see themselves, the world, and the future in a negative light. CBT can help them to identify these negative thoughts and cognitive distortions and replace them with more realistic and positive thoughts.
- Improve mood – By changing the way teens think about themselves, others, and their environment, CBT can help to improve their mood and overall outlook on life.
- Increase coping and problem-solving skills – Teens who learn CBT skills will be better equipped to deal with future stressful situations in a more positive and effective way.
- Improve academic performance – Teens who are struggling with depression often have difficulty concentrating and may see their grades suffer as a result. CBT can help them to learn how to better manage their symptoms so that they can focus on their academics.
Find Therapy for Teens with Depression at The Right Step
If you are the parent of a teen who is struggling with depression, cognitive-behavioral therapy may be a good treatment option to consider. The Right Step offers cognitive-behavioral therapy for teens as part of our comprehensive approach to treatment. To learn more about our program and to find out if cognitive-behavioral therapy is the right fit for your teen, contact us today at 713.528.3709 or reach out online.