Receiving a diagnosis can be scary and overwhelming, both for parents and their children. It is important to understand that there are ways to cope.
There are many people with these diagnoses who are successful in their adult lives, and starting counselling early is an excellent way to manage feelings and behaviours.
Therapy works best when the client can find value in the approach being used. The primary therapeutic method that we use is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT works by focusing on how thoughts, emotions, and behaviours influence each other. While we may feel that our thoughts are “real,” often we will think things that are not supported by any evidence. A teenager could think that nobody likes him, and when he sees a friend walking past his house without greeting him he could react in anger. But did his friend even know he was there?
Other approaches that we employ include Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Solution Focused Therapy (SFT), Mindfulness and others. Supporting all of these approaches is Active Listening – making my focus the client and what they are communicating. We firmly believe that any solutions to a client’s challenges can be found within the client, and the best way to bring this out is by actively listening.
CBT focuses on the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and behaviours where each of the three parts influences the other two.
Figure 1: CBT Focus
CBT identifies three layers of cognitions. Core beliefs, which are the hardest to change, impact how we see ourselves. Our Underlying Assumptions are based on our core beliefs, which help us predict how we will interpret the way in which the world operates. Automatic thoughts (AT) are thoughts that we have, which might not be noticed by us, throughout the day and are based on how our core beliefs impact our underlying assumptions.
If a child’s core belief is that they are a failure at school, then their underlying assumptions will be based on that belief. They might feel that regardless of what they try they will not succeed, which then can lead to negative automatic thoughts such as “I’m about to fail another test.”
Figure 2: Core beliefs to automatic thoughts