Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Children in NYC

CBT/DBT Associates offers a range of Child, Adolescent, and Family Services. Our clinicians provide CBT for children of all ages and DBT for middle school children and adolescents, as well as Parent Coaching and Divorce-Related Services.  Our empirically supported treatments address a wide range of problems in children including depression, opposition, anxiety, worry, behavioral and adjustment difficulties, school refusal, social skills deficits, self-injury, and suicidality. All treatments for children and adolescents require active involvement of family members in therapy, as well as at-home cognitive-behavioral skills practice.

CBT Services for Elementary School Aged Children

Mood and Anxiety Disorders Helped with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Children

Like adults, children and adolescents can experience depression, generalized anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, health anxiety, and other forms of mood dysregulation. Treatment for youth depression begins by addressing the child's feelings about depression and teaching effective skills to help change distressing thoughts, reduce avoidance of pleasurable activities, and engage in effective social problem-solving. Treatment for youth anxiety, which includes GAD, social anxiety, and separation anxiety, involves educating children and their family members about the nature of anxiety and giving the child or adolescent skills to change his/her anxious feelings, fearful thoughts, and avoidant behaviors. Typically, CBT with children and adolescents includes homework exercises to help kids apply the skills learn in treatment to their lives at home and in school.

CBT for children with OCD is based on a technique called exposure plus response prevention (ERP). The first step in treatment is to develop a list of the child’s fears and rituals along with the situations in which these symptoms are most likely to be prompted. Children are then gradually exposed to these feared situations starting with the least anxiety-provoking situation and progressing to those that are more difficult. During these systematic exposures, youngsters are encouraged to resist their urges to engage in ritualized behavior, causing an initial increase in anxiety. Over time, however, the child learns that resisting the compulsive behavior does not result in the feared consequence, leading to a reduction of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms.

For children with phobias, we offer short term, exposure-based treatment to help children and adolescents overcome fears that are currently interfering with social and academic functioning and/or daily living. Presenting phobias include but are not limited to fear of elevators, animals/insects, needles, heights, darkness, loud noises, vomiting, and flying.

Behavioral Disorders Can Be Helped Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Children

CBT/ DBT Associates offers short-term, family-based behavioral interventions for families with youngsters experiencing common behavior problems, such as non-compliance, oppositional behaviors, temper tantrums, poor impulse control, hyperactivity, disruptive behaviors, and bedtime/sleep problems.

Behavioral intervention programs typically include a combination of individual therapy for the child, caregiver coaching in effective behavior management strategies, and family sessions. Treatment is mostly office-based, but may include home-based sessions and/ or school visits in order to tailor treatment and facilitate generalization and maintenance of treatment gains. Off-site service delivery also includes consultation with school programs and IEP teams, where the focus is on developing a comprehensive and consistent behavior management program that can be implemented across settings. Children will also be assessed for commonly co-occurring problems, such as anxiety, depression, or social skills deficits.

Social Skills Training Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Children

Social skills allow children to develop and maintain positive social relationships with peers, teachers, and community members. When children struggle with communication, problem-solving, decision making, self-management, and perspective taking, it can interfere with social and academic development and functioning. Social skills deficits are associated with a variety of clinical presentations, such as ADHD, social anxiety, and Asperger's Disorder. Weakness in social skills can be understood as a skills deficit (poor knowledge of socially acceptable behavior), and/or a performance deficit (difficulty implementing skills or lack of opportunity to practice skills).

CBT/ DBT Associates also offers behavioral social skills training for children, ages 8-12, who currently experience difficulties making and maintaining positive social relationships. This group addresses general social skills topics, such as verbal and non-verbal communication skills, making and maintaining friendships, problem solving, perspective taking, cooperative work/ play, assertiveness, and effective responses to peer pressure and bullying. The group will address the content of the skills, as well as barriers that interfere with implementation of the skills. Additionally, participants will have individualized goals for which they will receive ongoing skills coaching and feedback. Children will be given “take home” assignments intended to help them generalize lessons learned in the group.

Parenting Services and Parent Coaching

Being a parent is a multifaceted job and can be challenging with children of any age. We offer parents the opportunity to learn skills to manage their own emotions in response to parenting as well as to manage difficult behavior in children of any age. We emphasize increasing mindfulness in parenting to allow for more enjoyable and rewarding parenting moments.

CBT/DBT Associates offers a variety of parenting services, including parent coaching with individuals and in groups. We also offer postpartum services for postpartum depression and anxiety, and/or skills to manage the stressful transition and demands that come with being a new parent for mothers and/or fathers. Learn more about our parenting services here.

Divorce-Related Services

Children Coping with Divorce is a CBT-oriented, group therapy program for children who have experienced parental separation or divorce. This CBT for children program is a short-term intervention with goals of providing children with psycho-education regarding commonly experienced emotions and beliefs associated with separation/ divorce, as well as coaching in communication, problem solving, and coping skills. The group format provides children with a sense of safety and support.

Parents Coping with Divorce is a CBT-oriented, short-term parent-coaching group intended to provide parents with information and skills to help their children and themselves adjust to the process of separation in addition to the family life changes that often accompany parental separation and divorce. Topics addressed in this CBT for children program include the parental experience of separation/ divorce, the child experience of separation/divorce, and effective co-parenting strategies that promote healthy adjustment in children. Parents of the same child will not be permitted to attend the same group.




CBT and DBT Services for Teens and Preteens

Middle school is often a particularly complicated and challenging time of transition for both children and their caregivers. During this stage of development, young adolescents struggle with their competing desires for increased independence and continued parental support. It is a time of self-exploration and identity development, in which youth often test limits and become more withdrawn and/or oppositional. Peer relationships are paramount, but social interactions become more nuanced, creating difficulties for children who may never have experienced social challenges before. Finally, the academic environment changes; expectations increase and new skills are required. The Middle School Program includes a variety of interventions geared toward addressing the unique needs of young adolescents ages 10-14 and their caregivers.

Targeted Challenges:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Social Difficulties
  • Social anxiety
  • Social skills deficits
  • Being bullied
  • School Avoidance/Refusal
  • Academic Challenges
  • Organization difficulties
  • Test anxiety
  • Under performance
  • Aggressive/Defiant Behavior


Individual Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an empirically supported and time-limited treatment that focuses on the connection between one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Your middle school age child will attend weekly sessions in order to develop effective coping skills to address current emotional and/or behavioral challenges. Your child will be assigned weekly homework in order to facilitate the use of learned skills outside of the therapy office. Caregiver participation is integrated into treatment so that effective environmental interventions can be executed.

Group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Youth will have the opportunity to engage in weekly CBT groups with peers experiencing similar challenges. Participating in treatment with others is beneficial for many reasons, such as normalizing mental health challenges, providing opportunities to learn from peers, creating a supportive and accepting social community, and generalizing skills and therapeutic gains. Groups targeting various challenges will be offered based on community interest and clinician’s expertise. Potential groups include the following: social anxiety/social skills, OCD, specific phobia, test anxiety, time management/organizational skills, and children of divorce.

Organizational Skills Training Group for Middle School Students

September 16th - November 4th | Wednesdays, 5:30 - 6:45 PM | Led by William Benson, Psy.D.

We’re excited to announce the return of our Organizational Skills Training Group for Middle School Students on Wednesday, September 16th, now with a new 8-week format adapted for school during these unprecedented times. Organizational skills training (OST) is a proven system for improving executive functioning skills for students who struggle to keep track of their school assignments, organize the materials they need, manage their time, and plan long-term assignments. In each session, students will learn effective routines to increase their academic success. Parents will also participate in a portion of each group to learn how best to support their children in transforming these new skills into habits.

To register for this group, click here.

Parenting Groups

Parents will have the opportunity to participate in weekly CBT-oriented parenting interventions with parents of children with similar difficulties. Parents will have the opportunity to develop skills to most effectively manage their child’s emotional distress and/or behavioral challenges. The group format provides the opportunity to receive support and suggestions from other caregivers with similar challenges, as well as practice skills with one another. Groups targeting various challenges will be offered based on the interests and needs of caregivers, as well as clinician’s expertise. Potential parenting groups include the following: parenting a child with increased anxiety, parenting a child with oppositional behavior, and parenting a child with ADHD.

Parenting a Child With Anxiety is an 8-week workshop series for caregivers of children who are experiencing increased anxiety or have a previously diagnosed anxiety disorder.  Learn more here.

Parent Nights

Monthly workshops open to the community and free of charge. Each workshop will focus on a different topic pertinent to raising a middle school age child. Caregivers will receive information based on the latest research, resources to use at home, and the opportunity to ask experts questions. Topics include: how do you know if your child would benefit from mental health services, choosing the right treatment for your child, cyber safety, bullying, body image and puberty, test anxiety, and communicating with schools.

Comprehensive Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a multi-component treatment developed by Marsha M. Linehan to treat problems in emotion regulation. It balances the use of change techniques from cognitive-behavior therapy with acceptance strategies. It is designed to address skill deficits in affect regulation, impulse control, assertiveness, and distress tolerance. In children, these issues commonly present as:

  • Self-injurious behaviors
  • Impulsive/disruptive behaviors
  • School refusal/truancy
  • Eating disordered behaviors
  • Anger management difficulties
  • Persistent peer conflict
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidality

DBT Multifamily Skills Group for Middle School Students

CBT/DBT Associates offers a DBT Multifamily Skills Group for students attending middle school (grades 5 through 8). This once per week 90-minute group is led by Alison Bellevue, Psy.D. Over the course of 18 weeks, middle schoolers and their parents learn skills to help them better manage their emotions, tolerate distress, and interact more effectively with others.

This group covers the following skills training modules:

Emotion regulation
Distress tolerance
Interpersonal effectiveness
Walking the middle path
Every Monday from 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM, starting Spring 2020

To schedule an initial consultation, please complete the form below or call 212-546-9200.