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Family Systems and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy #CBT #SoteldoPsychotherapy

Updated: Mar 28

a man and a woman laying on the floor looking at a blueprint


There are several essential alternatives for family therapeutic approaches actively practiced in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Some of the most notable approaches include the following;

· Cognitive therapy; this method focuses on changing the behaviour by paying attention to an individual’s thoughts or perceptions, especially thinking patterns resulting in distorted perceptions.

· Family therapy; this approach scrutinizes interaction patterns within the family unit, aiming to locate and eliminate available problems. The method also helps in providing a whole different view of problems

· Behavioural and learning theory; this aspect involves the modification of habitual responses towards specific situations or events.

· Developmental victimology; this approach entails establishing how the particular effects of exposure to traumatic or abusive events are distinct in each child during the different developmental stages and throughout the life

· Psychology of aggression; this approach offers an insight into the processes leading aggression and coercion and how the two are maintained, aspects that essential in understanding the chronology of events in a person's past which result in aggressive behaviour.

AF-CBT combines different techniques currently in use by experts in the field. Some of the varied approaches include behaviour and anger management, cognitive restructuring, communication, affect regulation, and problem-solving. All the relevant techniques are integrated into the AF-CBT approach and are easily accessible to practitioners and supervisors in practice.

AF-CBT simultaneously treats parents and children

AF-CBT uses parallel treatment materials practically in children between the age of 5-15 and their caregivers in stimulated separate therapy sessions. The children and their caregivers also attend joint therapy sessions scheduled through the treatment plan, helping address individual and parent-child problems in a consolidated approach.

AF-CBT discourages aggressive or violent behaviour

The AF-CBT treatment approach model promotes positive and prosocial behaviour while at the very time depresses coercive, violent, or aggressive behaviour from the children and parents alike. Just like in cognitive behaviour strategies, AF-CBT combines uses three distinct methods in people’s response to various situations that include;

· Behavior (action)

· Affect (feeling)

· Cognition (thoughts)

AF-CBT involves training in different psychological skills in each of the three key response channels built to enhance self-control and interpersonal effectiveness.

AF-CBT treatment options are specific and pre-determined

AF-CBT treatment first starts with s generalized assessment in the identification of specific problems the child is facing and singling out the specified familial or parental difficulties contributing to the prevailing problem. The approach also identifies the child's and family's positive aspects that can be used to solve the problem and bring change. By being able to customize the treatment option to fit specific family challenges and strengths, an efficient outcome is likely eventually.

The treatment options in AF-CBT are divided in different phases to promote efficiency and success. The general treatment is typically short-term, provided once or twice a week, requiring 18-24 hours of service and spread across 4-12 months period.

The treatment sessions usually involve separate sessions with the child and caregiver and a joint session with both particles participating together. Family interventions may be instituted before, during, and after the individual sessions depending on the outcome of prevailing progress. The treatment approach in AF-CBT involves the use of particular skills, engaging in performance exercises, role-playing activities, and home practical exercise.

AF-CBT treatment aims to achieve the following;

Ø Reduction of conflict and enhancing togetherness in the family setup

Ø Reduction in coercion that includes anger, aggression, and hostility propagated by the caregiver and other family members

Ø Reduce or stop the use of physical force or aggressive behaviour by either the caregiver, child, and any other family member

Ø Promote other alternate, non-aggressive discipline approaches

Ø Reduce child physical abuse

Ø Improving on the child’s safety level and promote family welfare/functionality

AF-CBT treatment phases

The AF-CBT treatment approach is divided into three phases, each phase relevant both to the child and caregiver. The treatment sequence involves first teaching intrapersonal skills like cognitive and affective, followed by interpersonal skills that include behavioural lessons. The study topics in each phase are delivered through a flexible model depending on the progress and understanding.

The treatment option currently being used in inpatient setups, a step from the primary outpatient and home settings. The standard treatment in the AF-CBT approach is divided into three phases, listed below;

Phase one main topic is psychoeducation and engagement, dividend into four. The four topics include orientation, alliance building, and engagement, learning about feelings and family experiences, and talking about family experiences and psychoeducation.

The second phase is titled; individual skill building and focuses on skills training. The topics under this phase include; emotional regulation, restructuring thoughts, notice positive behaviour, assertiveness, and social skills, techniques of managing behaviour, imaginal exposure and preparation for clarification,

The third and final phase is titled; Family applications. Topics under this phase include verbalization of healthy communication, enhancing safety through clarification, and solving family problems. The final stage is graduation and celebrating the completion of the process.

Raquel Soteldo RP(Q), MA, ABA, PMP, CCC

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