Frequently Asked Questions About CBT For Foster Children 

Foster children come from different backgrounds. Some come from abusive families. Meanwhile, others may come from families that can’t provide for their basic needs due to financial constraints.

The situation they’re in may be traumatic, especially at their young age. Past cases of abuse or being away from their biological family is indeed a negative experience. 


Regardless of their background or past, we’re sure these children need a home where they can be fully cared for.

For these foster children, mental health needs often go unmet. When, in fact, these children are at higher risk for mental health problems because of their situation. As foster parents, we should be ready to embrace and give care to these issues. 

Double trauma is common in foster children. Abuse or neglect from a biological family and stress from constantly transferring from family to family cause this trauma. Studies show that the following issues in the mental health of your foster child can be prevalent:

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 
  • Social Phobias 
  • Depression  
  • Anxiety disorders  

The frequency of these disorders is higher in foster children when compared to the general adult population. It’s alarming that mental health is typically brushed off. If we want our foster children to have a fulfilling life, we should start caring for their mental well-being. 

What can we do for our child? Besides meeting their basic needs, listening, and providing a safe space, letting them receive therapy is also possible. Particularly, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a good option. CBT is common for people with behavioral, emotional, and mood disorders.

It aims to gain insight into why behaviors and actions are done through guided questioning of thoughts and emotions. 

Being practical in structure, CBT is highly effective in helping your child process their behaviors and emotions. It can help them form healthy coping mechanisms and good relations with their foster family. 

Are you figuring out if cognitive-behavioral therapy can work for your child? Read on to know about frequently asked questions asked by other foster parents. 

What is CBT, and how does it work?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a popular form of psychotherapy that focuses on an individual’s cognitive functions, such as knowledge acquisition, thinking capacities, logic, reasoning, etc.

CBT’s goal is to gain insight into how negative thinking can impact a person’s behavior and motivation.  It is the most common approach in treating various mental health problems, especially mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

What is an example of cognitive-behavioral therapy?

Many techniques are used in cognitive-behavioral therapy. The most commonly used example of CBT is through guided discovery and questioning. This technique allows a patient to cross-examine his/her own thoughts and feelings freely.

The therapist will then challenge him/her to look at a different viewpoint and try to replace the lingering negative feelings or thinking.

Can you do CBT on yourself?

Recent studies have shown doing CBT on yourself is possible and also effective. Many self-help books available in bookstores and on the internet are informative in performing self-directed cognitive behavioral therapy without a therapist’s help.

While self-help CBT is useful, it is still advisable and best to seek a mental health provider’s advice.

How effective is CBT therapy?

While CBT therapy’s effectiveness varies per person, research has concluded cognitive-behavioral therapy as the most effective treatment approach, especially when it comes, but not limited to, mood disorders.

CBT’s effectiveness is found to be similar or far more than psychiatric medications.


What are the disadvantages of CBT?

Like other forms of treatment or therapy, cognitive-behavior therapy has its disadvantages. Many people find CBT taxing since it is time-consuming.

It is also a person-centered approach and may not account for other stressors in an individual’s life, such as environment and relationships. CBT is also not recommended for people experiencing more complex mental health disorders.

Can CBT be harmful?

There are risks to cognitive-behavioral therapy, which some people may find harmful. For example, in a CBT therapy session, a person may be asked to explore his/her past, which may bring painful feelings and memories.

This is a form of an aggressive method, and individuals may find this uncomfortable at times.

Who is CBT not good for?

As previously mentioned, cognitive-behavioral therapy may not be the right choice for individuals suffering a more complex set of psychological problems. People who are also emotionally sensitive may find CBT challenging.

How long does it take for cognitive behavioral therapy to work?

According to statistics, cognitive-behavioral therapy takes an average of 12 weeks to 20 weeks to fully work and see an improvement in a patient’s condition. Each week usually have one therapy session lasting between an hour to two.

Is act better than CBT?

ACT refers to acceptance and commitment therapy. One cannot say that the other is better or vice versa, as both therapies work differently on every individual.

However, the difference between the two is that CBT confronts the negative emotions and thinking upfront, whereas ACT believes in accepting these negative feelings as a part of life.

What are the pros and cons of cognitive-behavioral therapy?

One of the primary advantages of cognitive-behavioral therapy is its effectiveness, being similar to or more than any other type of psychotherapy and even psychiatric medications. CBT is also highly-structured and practical.

However, CBT sessions can take up a lot of time, making it hard for an individual to commit. It may also be a lot more emotionally distressing to some people, given some sessions’ techniques.

Is CBT good for anxiety?

Yes, cognitive-behavioral therapy is right for anxiety. Studies have found CBT to be the most effective treatment option for general anxiety and other anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic depression, phobias, etc.

Can CBT make anxiety worse?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy requires people to unfold their emotions, making it uncomfortable for some, and thus their anxiety worsening. That is why it is essential to have a trusted therapist when you plan on undergoing CBT.

Why is CBT so popular?

Many studies prove CBT as an effective method in treating a wide range of psychological disorders. Therefore, cognitive-behavioral therapy is so prevalent in both clinical and research settings.

Who needs cognitive behavioral therapy?

CBT is commonly used in people with anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. However, alcohol and substance abuse problems and eating disorders are also some of the other mental illnesses that can be treated using cognitive-behavioral therapy.

If you are suffering from any of these cognitive difficulties, you should ask your therapist about CBT.

What is the difference between cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy?

Both cognitive therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy target a person’s cognitive psychology. Cognitive therapy only aims to improve a person’s reasoning. Meanwhile, CBT targets the connection between an individual’s thinking capacity and behavioral skills.

Ensuring the holistic needs of your child is important. Foster children may have issues brought about by their circumstances.

Becoming a home for a child means being ready to be there for everything – including their mental health needs. You should have a high level of dedication and belief that your child can indeed lead a better life. 


Mental issues are indicative of deeper problems and experiences. The trauma of being separated from their biological family is difficult to process even as an adult. What more if you’re just a child? 

Of course, not all children placed in foster care have mental health issues. It is important, however, that those who have can receive the right treatment and care.

Some signs you can look out for are severe mood swings, social isolation, recurring nightmares, and behavioral problems. You can seek professional help to ensure the best for your child. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a method you can consider. Its structural approach can help your child better manage their emotions and behavior. Throughout the process, the therapist will provide your child with strategies for coping and behaving.

As a foster family, you must be willing to be a support network your child can rely on for encouragement. 

Despite its benefits, CBT is not for children with complex mental health problems. It also applies if a child does not want to revisit or is unprepared to process their traumatic experiences.

Since the nature of CBT involves opening up and reviewing your thoughts and experiences, it isn’t for every child. Talk and consult with a therapist to know what’s the best course of action. 

Fostering is a wonderful experience that’s full of sacrifice, commitment, and understanding. In this act of love, caring for your child means being there for them wholeheartedly no matter what. 

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