Young children's ability to engage in cognitive therapy tasks: Associations with age and educational experience

Liz Doherr, Shirley A. Reynolds, Julia Wetherly, Elin H. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)


In two linked studies we examined children's performance on tasks required for participation in cognitive therapy. In Study 1 we piloted some new tasks with children aged 5 to 11 years. In study 2 the effects of IQ, age and educational experience were examined in children aged 5 to 7 years. In study 1, 14 children aged 5 to 11 completed three tasks related to cognitive therapy; generating post-event attributions, naming emotions, and linking thoughts and feelings. Study 2 used a between-subjects design in which 72 children aged 5, 6, or 7 years from two primary schools completed the three tasks and the Block Design and Vocabulary sub-tests from the WISC III or WPPSI-R. Children were tested individually during the school day. All measures were administered on the same occasion. In study 2 administration order of the cognitive therapy task and the WISC III/WPPSI-R were randomized. The majority of children demonstrated some ability on each of the three tasks. In study 2, performance was associated with school and with IQ but not with age. There were no gender differences. Children attending a school with an integrated thinking skills programme and those with a higher 1Q were more successful on the cognitive therapy tasks. These results suggest that many young children could engage in cognitive therapy given age-appropriate materials. The effects of training in relevant meta-cognitive skills on children's ability to use concepts in CBT may warrant further research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-215
Number of pages15
JournalBehavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005

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