How a CBT Child Therapist Can Support Your Family

When your child struggles with anxiety, sadness, or OCD-like behaviors, it affects the entire family. Watching your child suffer is an agonizing part of parenting. In St. Louis we’re lucky to have a number of outstanding training programs for therapists, which means there are many skilled therapists in the area to choose from! 

We believe we have some of the best here at Anxiety Specialists of St. Louis, where our child therapists are skilled in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). 

Understanding the Role of a CBT Child Therapist

CBT child therapists help by building up the mental and emotional resilience of children. In session they’ll provide significant support, helping children through stressors at home, at school, and with friends.

In addition to being supportive, CBT therapists are also very direct and active in sessions. They’ll likely have an agenda or a plan for the session and will work to teach your child skills and strategies to use to tackle their symptoms. CBT therapists will also typically measure progress toward goals using questionnaires or other methods. They’ll use that information to make adjustments to the treatment plan as needed. 

CBT child therapists will also be in close communication with you as a parent. This level of communication will vary depending on your child’s age, but especially with younger children, you’ll have a clear idea of what your child is learning.

CBT therapists work to create a nurturing environment where children can develop concrete coping mechanisms to tackle anxiety so they can play, spend time with friends, and enjoy being a kid!

What Does a CBT Child Therapist Do?

CBT child therapists are professionals trained to work with young minds. They use different techniques to help children develop skills in expressing themselves, understanding their emotions, and learning healthy coping strategies.

These activities might include:

Assessment: Assessments are completed only by licensed psychologists. Thorough evaluations can help determine a child’s unique strengths and needs through interviews, observations, and standardized assessments.

Individual Therapy: Child therapists often provide tailored one-on-one sessions that allow them to work directly with the child to tackle specific issues and set treatment goals. Although once weekly sessions are most common, intensive formats can also work well.

Play Therapy: Some CBT therapists might also use play as a tool to help children to safely communicate their emotions and thoughts. This is most likely used with younger children.

Family Therapy: Often, anxiety and OCD impact the whole family system. Sometimes, involving the family can be beneficial to improve communication, address family dynamics, and strengthen relationships.

Skill Building: CBT therapists will focus primarily on developing skills, such as identifying relationships between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, developing problem-solving strategies, and enhancing social skills.

The Benefits of Engaging a CBT Child Therapist

Choosing a CBT child therapist in St. Louis can help your child and family in several ways.

Emotional Support: Having dedicated time for therapy can give your child a supportive space for them to express their emotions and practice healthy coping methods.

Behavioral Improvement: Children learn to manage difficult behaviors, develop self-control, and enhance their interactions. With CBT for anxiety, children will likely be working to confront things that make them feel afraid, learning that their fears are unlikely, and that they are stronger than they thought.

Improved Communication: CBT sessions can help improve how children articulate their needs and foster stronger relationships within the family and with peers. As a parent, you’ll have an understanding of the skills they’re working on so you can be a coach for your child at home during difficult moments.

Confidence: Therapy encourages children to take charge of their mental health, build resilience, and foster a positive self-image.

Specific Techniques Used in CBT for Kids and Teens

A CBT therapist will likely use some of the following core strategies. These skills will be modified based on the child’s level of cognitive and emotional development. For teens, the strategies might include using a worksheet or something more structured while younger kids might play games, draw, or use other interactive ways of practicing.


Cognitive Restructuring helps kids to recognize their thoughts and the impact they have on how they feel and what they do. This allows them to then reframe negative thoughts or consider other perspectives.

Behavioral Activation is another core CBT skill. For kids or teens who are feeling sad and down, behavioral activation encourages them to increase their engagement with positive activities to boost mood. This might include scheduling activities they enjoy, exploring new hobbies, or finding ways to connect with others. It might include  practicing  goal-setting and setting up rewards.

Exposure Therapy will likely be a part of the treatment plan for kids or teens with anxiety or OCD. Exposure therapy provides a way to gradually break down fears so kids can practice facing them in a more controlled environment. Whenever possible we like to practice in the office first. We also have a virtual reality system that helps us get creative with our exposures! 

Overall, CBT child therapists play an important role in helping kids and teens learn and practice skills for overcoming their anxieties. CBT therapists offer individualized care, emotional support, and evidence-based interventions, helping children to reach their full potential and enjoy themselves!

If your child needs mental health support, please reach out to us today!  Schedule your free 15 minute consultation here