Using CBT with Children (MGH Residents)

This interactive online course provides an orientation and overview of how to use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) skills in clinical work with children.

If you work with children in your practice, it is important to develop the skills necessary to adapt CBT for use with this age group. And there are few postgraduate educational opportunities that focus on this specific skill set.

This course is led by child psychology experts who help you adapt CBT principles to clinical work with children. They provide an overview of CBT goals and techniques, and an in-depth review of behavioral and cognitive interventions. Course content covers how to conduct assessments, develop case conceptualizations, modify cognitive and behavioral techniques for use with children, measure progress with validated tools, and address relapse prevention. Faculty also discuss how to incorporate parents and caregivers into treatment.

These enhanced skills at working with children are ideal for clinicians in mental health, pediatrics, primary care, social work, nursing, psychology and more.

The course includes an array of resources, videos and other materials to guide you through your learning experience. All content and assignments can be completed whenever your schedule allows. Weekly call-in times allow faculty to hear and respond to your questions directly, and an interactive discussion board lets you post your own questions and interact with peers from across the United States and around the world. Plus, the course is accessible via desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet.


Target Audience

This program is intended for:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • General and Family Practice Physicians
  • Physician Assistants
  • Nurses
  • Social Workers
  • Residents
  • Fellows

Learning Objectives

By the end of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of key principles of CBT when provided to children.
  • Explain methods for assessment and case conceptualization when working with children within a CBT model.
  • Recognize essential cognitive and behavioral techniques used in providing CBT to children.
  • Explain factors that distinguish the application of CBT to children as compared to adults.
Course summary
Registration opens: 
Course closes: 

The following course materials will be available each week:

  • Didactic presentations with embedded role plays
  • Self-assessments
  • Live "chat with the experts"
  • Discussion boards
  • Readings
  • Worksheets, handouts, and references

Topics and faculty subject to change without notice.

Week 1

Overview of Cognitive-Behavior Therapy Goals and Techniques

  • Provide an overview of cognitive-behavior therapy goals and techniques.
  • Introduce and illustrate several well-established CBT techniques.
  • Discuss developmental adaptations to CBT across childhood and adolescence.

Participants should be able to understand the following key elements:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the key components of CBT case formulation when working with children.
  2. Recognize essential elements of the assessment phase of CBT.
  3. Identify how to structure a typical CBT session.
  4. Understand effective methods for introducing the CBT model of treatment to children.


Week 2

 Development of Goals for Therapy

  • Development of goals for therapy
  • Thought-feeling monitoring
  • Review of Cognitive Interventions

Participants should be able to understand the following key elements:

  1. Identify critical considerations when developing treatment goals.
  2. Recognize effective methods for teaching children to monitor thoughts and feelings.
  3. Understand four key cognitive interventions used in working with children.


Week 3

Bringing Cognitive and Behavioral Techniques Together

  • Behavioral interventions.
  • Bringing cognitive and behavioral techniques together.

Participants should be able to understand the following key elements:

  1. Understand relaxation training techniques.
  2. Recognize how behavioral activation and pleasant activity scheduling are incorporated into CBT treatment. 
  3. Identify how to apply most commonly used exposure treatments.
  4. Understand how safety behaviors can interfere with exposure treatments.


Week 4

Relapse Prevention and Booster Sessions

  • Relapse prevention and booster sessions.
  • Similarities and differences between adult and child CBT.
  • Developmental issues in child CBT.

Participants should be able to understand the following key elements:

  1. Understand techniques used within CBT for relapse prevention.
  2. Recognize key differences between adult and child applications of CBT.
  3. Identify essential developmental factors to consider when providing CBT to children.


Please login or register to take this course.
Please login or register to take this course.
Please login or register to take this course.
Please login or register to take this course.
Please login or register to take this course.
Please login or register to take this course.


David H. Rubin, MD, reviewer
Jane Pimental, MPH
Sabine Wilhelm, PhD
Timothy J. Petersen, PhD
Susan E. Sprich, PhD, psychologist reviewer, moderator

Disclosure Information

In accord with the disclosure policy of McLean Hospital as well as guidelines set forth by the Accreditation Council on Continuing Medical Education, all people in control of educational content, including speakers, course directors, planners, and reviewers, have been asked to disclose all relevant financial relationships with commercial interests of both themselves and their spouses/partners over the past 12 months, as defined below:                             

Commercial Interest

The ACCME defines a “commercial interest” as any entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services, used on, or consumed by, patients. The ACCME does not consider providers of clinical service directly to patients to be commercial interests. For more information, visit

Financial relationships

Financial relationships are those relationships in which the individual benefits by receiving a salary, royalty, intellectual property rights, consulting fee, honoraria, ownership interest (e.g., stocks, stock options or other ownership interest, excluding diversified mutual funds), or other financial benefit.  Financial benefits are usually associated with roles such as employment, management position, independent contractor (including contracted research), consulting, speaking and teaching, membership on advisory committees or review panels, board membership, and other activities from which remuneration is received, or expected.  ACCME considers relationships of the person involved in the CME activity to include financial relationships of a spouse or partner.

Relevant financial relationships 

ACCME focuses on financial relationships with commercial interests in the 12-month period preceding the time that the individual is being asked to assume a role controlling content of the CME activity. ACCME has not set a minimal dollar amount for relationships to be significant.  Inherent in any amount is the incentive to maintain or increase the value of the relationship. The ACCME defines “’relevant’ financial relationships” as financial relationships in any amount occurring within the past 12 months that create a conflict of interest.

Conflict of Interest

Circumstances create a conflict of interest when an individual has an opportunity to affect CME content about products or services of a commercial interest with which he/she has a financial relationship.

The following planners, speakers, and content reviewers, on behalf of themselves and their spouse or partner, have reported financial relationships with an entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services (relevant to the content of this activity) consumed by, or used on, patients:

Sabine Wilhelm, PhD
Royalties: Springer (for co-editing book)

Timothy J. Petersen, PhD
Royalties: Springer (for co-editing book)

Susan E. Sprich, PhD, Psychologist Reviewer, Moderator
Royalties (Co-Author): Oxford University Press
Royalties (Co-Edited Book): Springer
Honoraria (Associate Editors): Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT)

All other individuals including course directors, planners, reviewers, faculty, staff, etc., who are in a position to control the content of this educational activity have, on behalf of themselves and their spouse or partner, reported no financial relationships related to the content of this activity.

Hardware/Software Specifications

This internet-based CME activity is best experienced using Internet Explorer 8+, Mozilla Firefox 3+, Safari 4+. This Web site requires that JavaScript and session cookies be enabled. Certain activities may require additional software to view multimedia, presentation, or printable versions of the content. These activities will be marked as such and will provide links to the required software. That software may be: Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Windows Media Player.

Optimal System Configuration

Flash Player: Adobe Flash Player 10.1+
Browser: Firefox 3+, Internet Explorer 8.0+, Safari 4.0+, or Google Chrome 7.0+
Operating System: Windows XP+ or Mac OS X 10.4+
Internet Connection: 1 Mbps or higher

Minimum Requirements

Windows PC:500-MHz Pentium II; Windows XP or higher; 128 MB RAM; Video Card at least 64MB of video memory; Sound Card at least 16-bit; Macromedia Flash Player 10 or higher, audio playback with speakers for programs with video content; Firefox 1.1+, Internet Explorer 7.0+, Safari 1.0+, Google Chrome, or Opera
Macintosh: Mac OS X 10.3 or higher with latest updates installed; 1.83MHz Intel Core Duo or faster; RAM: 128MB or more; Video Card: at least 64MB of video memory; Sound Card: at least 16-bit