What is it?
Also known as cognitive behaviour interventions, CBT is a well-established, evidence based intervention that uses a student’s cognitive skills to help them manage their behaviours. Typically, students are taught to recognise their emotions, such as anger or anxiety and to understand what happens when the emotion starts to escalate. They are then taught to identify helpful and unhelpful thoughts and to start to manage their thinking and behaviour when these occur. Generalising strategies to different situations and different people is important. CBT will often incorporate other strategies such as social narratives, visual supports and video modeling. Research suggests that CBT may be of most benefit with behaviours that are based in emotional responses or unhelpful thinking patterns, such as those related to anger responses or anxiety.
Cognitive behaviour therapy must be implemented by a trained and qualified professional, typically a clinical psychologist. Teachers and school staff can play an important role in referring students to appropriate internal or external services and by working closely with the psychologist to help implement and generalise the new skills to the classroom setting.
What can I do?
Teachers and school staff can speak with parents about options regarding CBT, including referring to appropriate practitioners when appropriate. Close collaboration with the psychologist will ensure that appropriate strategies are developed to be implemented in the classroom setting for the student, allowing for generalisation and reducing the behaviour/s of concern. Observations and data collection may be of particular importance when establishing new strategies and new behavioural responses.
Research suggests evidence for CBT in school aged children, with additional modifications for those students with additional difficulties including autism or language impairment.
Where can I learn more?