Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy

The field of child psychotherapy has experienced substantial growth over the past 15 years.  Although child psychotherapy used to involve ineffective treatments and downward extensions and adaptations of treatments proven to be effective with adults, we now have evidence that specific psychotherapeutic treatments benefit children dealing with specific psychological issues. The following is a list of evidence-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approaches that I utilize to address psychological difficulties in children and adolescents:

  • Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) is an effective behavioral therapy treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in children and adolescents.  ERP involves gradually exposing a child to the situations and intrusive thoughts that he fears while encouraging him not to engage in rituals (compulsions).  Over time, the intrusive thoughts and anxiety are diminished, and the child learns to manage OCD symptoms so they do not become out of control in the future.  I provide individual ERP and offer supplemental CBT/support groups for those diagnosed with OCD.

Citation: Barrett, P. M., Farrell, L., Pina, A. A., Piacentini, J., & Peris, T. S. (2008). Evidence-based psychosocial treatments for child and adolescent Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 37, 131-155.


  • Exposure Therapy is used to treat children and adolescents with Specific Phobias, such as fears of the dark, dogs, or elevators.  The child is gradually exposed to the object or situation that she fears until she becomes less afraid.  The child learns that she can handle her fears and stops avoiding the object or situation in her daily life.  In vivo exposure (confronting the actual feared object or situation) and imaginal exposure (confronting the feared object or situation in one’s imagination) are both effective in treating Specific Phobias.

Citation: Silverman, W. K., Pina, A. A., & Viswesvaran, Chockalingam (2008). Evidence-based psychosocial treatments for phobic and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: A review and meta-analyses. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 37, 105-130.


  • Exposure Therapy and other Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques are used to treat children and adolescents with Social Phobia, or the fear and avoidance of social or performance situations.  These situations may include meeting a new person, making eye contact while interacting with others, talking on the telephone, or speaking in front of an audience.  Children and adolescents gradually learn to confront feared social situations.  CBT techniques are used to reduce upsetting automatic thoughts and beliefs (e.g., “the spotlight is on me,” “others are judge and criticize,” “others really notice when I mess up”), which often coexist with avoidance of social situations.

Citation: Silverman, W. K., Pina, A. A., & Viswesvaran, Chockalingam (2008). Evidence-based psychosocial treatments for phobic and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: A review and meta-analyses. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 37, 105-130.


  • The Coping Cat is a specific CBT treatment program that has been shown to be effective in the treatment of Social Anxiety, Separation Anxiety, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (i.e., excessive worry) in children ages 6 and older.  The Coping Cat teaches children to identify and label their anxious feelings, to use strategies such as diaphramatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation to manage anxiety, and to confront feared situations in a more confident manner.

Citation: Silverman, W. K., Pina, A. A., & Viswesvaran, Chockalingam (2008). Evidence-based psychosocial treatments for phobic and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: A review and meta-analyses. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 37, 105-130.


  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment for children and adolescents diagnosed with Depression.  This therapy emphasizes the importance of engaging in pleasurable and rewarding activities, developing adequate social skills, and learning to talk back to untrue thoughts that lead to depressed mood and depressive behavior.

Citation: David-Ferndon, C., Kaslow, N. J. (2008). Evidence-based psychosocial treatments for child and adolescent depression. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 37, 62-104.


  • Parent Management Training is the treatment of choice for children and adolescents exhibiting disruptive behavior associated with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), or Conduct Disorder (CD).  Parents are taught skills to reduce childhood behavioral problems and implement these skills in a step-wise manner with their child at home.  Skills and techniques include spending time with one’s child, providing positive reinforcement to increase appropriate behaviors, establishing appropriate rules, giving effective instructions, and using response cost and time out techniques in order to reduce maladaptive behaviors.

Citation: Eyberg, S. M., Nelson, M. M., & Boggs, S. R. (2008). Evidence-based psychosocial treatments for child and adolescent with disruptive behavior. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 37, 215-237.


  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is a manualized interactive form of parent training that has been shown to be effective in reducing “acting out” behaviors in children 2 to 7 years old.   PCIT involves an initial phase of teaching parents positive parenting skills in order to improve the parent-child relationship.  In the second phase of PCIT, parents are taught to use effective commands, rules, and consequences including time out in order to increase their child’s compliance and rule-following behavior.  The therapist teaches skills to parents and then acts as a coach while parents interact with their young child in the therapy room.

Citation: Eyberg, S. M., Nelson, M. M., & Boggs, S. R. (2008). Evidence-based psychosocial treatments for child and adolescent with disruptive behavior. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 37, 215-237.


  • I integrate elements of Social Skills Training, Coping Skills Training, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Dialectical-Behavior Therapy (DBT) in order to improve socialization, social-cognition, problem-solving, and emotion-regulation.

Next:  Infants and Toddlers

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