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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Children & Youth

Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is the most common form of talk therapy offered at Bright Star. Our therapists can help your child or youth navigate new and challenging events in life by guiding them on how to be more aware of their feelings, behaviour, and actions.

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

CBT is the most evidence-based therapy for treating anxiety and depression in children and youth. It's also the most recommended therapy by both pediatricians and mental health professionals. CBT consists of examining the way children and youth think (aka cognition), act (aka behaviour), and feel, both physically and emotionally.

When receiving CBT, children and youth will be able to understand better how their thoughts affect emotions, and how emotions affect behaviours and actions. Extra attention is paid to certain emotions that are disruptive and unhelpful in life. The therapist will ask questions to help recognize when these behaviours are arising, while identifying and then exploring how emotions and thoughts affect certain actions.

CBT is most helpful for children and youth who are experiencing mild to moderate anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, chronic aches and pains, and disorders with eating or relating to trauma. It can help them face rather than completely avoid tough life situations with a clear mindset, and it can also teach them practical skills that apply to day-to-day living.


Overall, CBT is highly recommended if your child/youth needs support while they're facing the most challenging events in life right now, while also improving their ability to recognize and change their response to unhelpful behaviours and thoughts in their daily life.

How does CBT look for children and youth at Bright Star?

All of our sessions at Bright Star involve you, the parent or caregiver, and your child/youth. We welcome and encourage you to be a part of the CBT process.

Our CBT is a child-led approach to talk therapy, in that play therapy is combined and underlying beneath the CBT. Thought, emotion, and behaviour are all addressed and explored through movement and play, while remaining CBT-based.

During your initial session, one of our therapists will meet with you and get to hear your story and how you see your child. You will have the opportunity to speak openly about your child's struggles and strengths, and we will discuss needs and concerns. We will also explain what you can expect from future counselling sessions.

Afterwards, you may decide to bring your child in for a meeting, or you may feel you received all the information you need. If you decide to follow through with another meeting, then for the next session one of our team members will meet only with your child.


Sessions at Bright Star can take place in one or more of the following ways:


  • Individually, i.e. between your child and their therapist only.

  • Parent-child involved, meaning our therapist will teach you, the parent/caregiver, specific skills to coach your child. It's parent as a support at home and in the community. 

  • Family-based, i.e. you, your child, and your child’s siblings or anyone close in the family get involved.

  • Group, meaning your child, their therapist, and other children coping with similar signs of needing support will all work together during sessions.

How long does CBT take, and when is it best to start?

Children and youth typically attend between 8 to 20 50-minute sessions. Family sessions can take place for up to 1 hour or 2.


Once the initial meeting has taken place and a treatment plan has been put together, we can start applying CBT as well as any other supportive counselling methods to your child's sessions right away.

While CBT is a form of talk therapy, there’s a lot more involved than just talking. During sessions our therapists will give you and your child the tools needed to cope with new and big emotions, as well as supportive solutions to take control of emotions, leaving you and your child to feel stronger, calmer, and happier as a result. These solutions can be applied to day-to-day life immediately. Ideally, they should be put into practice regularly outside of sessions.

Still have questions? Let us know

We’re always eager to hear from you, whether it’s the need for applying CBT to process new emotions and thoughts or simply a general update of how things are going. 

Keep in mind also that CBT is just one form of talk therapy we offer, as we’re always able to expand our circle of care via our services to families and children not only in Port Moody, but also across BC. Please feel free to contact us to chat about how else we are able to help your child and family.

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