Cognitive Behavioural Approaches to Working with Children with Common Mental Health Disorders

Module titleCognitive Behavioural Approaches to Working with Children with Common Mental Health Disorders
Module codePSY3433
Academic year2016/7
Module staff

Dr Robert Kidney (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The incidence and prevalence rate of mental health disorders in children and adolescents is increasing over time (Chief Medical Officer’s report). This means that now more than ever there is a need for the detection of difficulties and access to effective psychological interventions for young people with anxiety and depression. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has demonstrated efficacy in working with a wide range of mental health disorders in children. It is the most cited psychological intervention in NICE guidance for working with children and families.

Through this module you will gain a grounding in the theory and understanding of the role of children and young people’s improving access to psychological therapies (CYP IAPT) program and the use of CBT with this population. This will focus particularly upon the area of anxiety and depression. Current innovation in practice and adaptations needed to meet the needs of clients will be considered. The module will support development of understanding of the theory and application of CBT, the service context within which it sits and the service transformation agenda embedded within the CYP IAPT program.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module builds on Stage 1 and 2 modules in abnormal and clinical psychology and relates to understanding of developmental psychology. Links are supported between these areas and the understanding of basic knowledge about psychological interventions. It will familiarise you with current cognitive-behavioural research and treatment approaches to working with anxiety and depression with children and families, as well as the current role of CYP IAPT in service transformation.

Key areas of knowledge to be covered include:

  • The presentation of some common mood disorders in children
  • The aetiology of mood disorders in children
  • The aims, values and implications of the CYP IAPT program for childrens’ services
  • Generic cognitive behavioural case formulation
  • A cognitive behavioural approach for working with childhood depression and the evidence base
  • A cognitive behavioural approach for working with childhood anxiety and the evidence base
  • Adaptations in CBT when working with children and families

The module will provide a forum for understanding and exploring the work of clinicians using CBT within children’s services. With the expansion of CYP IAPT and stepped care into children’s services in both the NHS and voluntary services, the curriculum is directly relevant to a number of organisations supporting children’s mental health. The content aims to support the learning of those motivated and interested in a career working within these services or learning more about the work that they do. The module also aims to support understanding of the role and value of working collaboratively with young people, both clinically and organisationally.

The  module will give you experience in communicating with diverse audiences and seeking and responding to feedback, problem solving (through assimilating and collating new and diverse information, and relating theory and research findings to real life clinical issues), collaboration (through co-operative group working and supporting the learning of others), and effective time management

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe empirical findings, theoretical approaches, research methods and some empirically-validated psychological treatments relevant to cognitive-behavioural approaches to working with children.
  • 2. Describe systems of conceptualisation, intervention and evaluation used in cognitive-behavioural therapies for children with mental health difficulties
  • 3. Solve, at an academic level, some of the problems faced by psychological therapists when working with children with mental health difficulties
  • 4. Acquire detailed, systematic and comprehensive knowledge of one key theoretical orientation (cognitive-behavioural) that underpins current psychological research and therapy for working with children with common mental health disorders
  • 5. Acquire knowledge of the key empirical findings relevant to the aetiology, maintenance and treatment of children’s common mental health disorders mood disorders within a psychological framework

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Acquire detailed, systematic and comprehensive knowledge within the discipline, with in-depth specialisation at the forefront of the discipline in certain areas, and demonstrate advanced critical understanding of this knowledge and of the limits and provisional nature of this knowledge
  • 7. Review and critically evaluate published work at an advanced level and identify the strengths and weaknesses of this work, and at an advanced level structure this literature to present logical, coherent and sustained arguments to support conclusions at an advanced level
  • 8. Address systematically complex problems at an advanced level which may be framed within unpredictable contexts, think critically, creatively and independently, and fully appreciate the complexities of the issues
  • 9. Understand and apply essential principles in designing research, and critically evaluate and analyse empirical evidence, and assess the reliability of empirical evidence
  • 10. Illustrate the wider ethical issues relating to the subject and its application at an advanced level

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 11. Interact effectively and supportively within a learning group
  • 12. Manage your own learning using the full range of resources of the discipline with minimum guidance
  • 13. Describe your own criteria of self-evaluation and challenge received opinion, reflect on your actions, and seek and make use of feedback
  • 14. Select and manage information, and to undertake competently study tasks with minimum guidance
  • 15. Take responsibility for your own work and criticise it
  • 16. Engage effectively in debate in a professional manner and produce detailed and coherent written work
  • 17. Identify with confidence and flexibility complex problems and apply appropriate knowledge and methods for their solution
  • 18. Act autonomously with minimal supervision or direction, within agreed deadlines
  • 19. Manage time effectively to meet deadlines

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The areas we will cover are as follows:

  • Background and epidemiology. How do mental health disorders in children present themselves? What are mental health disorders? What are the main diagnoses and symptoms? Review of frequency, prevalence, and impact of common mental health disorders in children.
  • Phenomenology of childhood mental health disorder from the child perspective.
  • Cognitive theories of common mental health disorder in children and the evidence base for theory and therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioural case conceptualisation with children
  • The content of cognitive behavioural therapy for children
  • Current areas of development in cognitive behavioural therapy for children

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching33Seminars and Q&A session (11 x 2 hours, 11 x 1 hour)
Guided Independent Study57Reading in preparation for weekly seminars, following recommendations on reading list and linked to ELE module homepage and independently exploring further sources of information using links provided
Guided Independent Study30Further exploratory research and subsequent reading in preparation for writing CA component
Guided Independent Study30Further exploratory research and subsequent reading in preparation for final exam


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar presentations15 minutesAllOral
Engagement in seminar discussion10 x 1 hour Q&A sessionsAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination603 hours1-10, 16, 18Written, generic feedback posted on module ELE page
Essay402000 words1-10, 12, 14-18Written, individual feedback on script, generic feedback posted on ELE


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExaminationAllAug Ref/Def
EssayEssayAllAug Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Two assessments are required for this module. Where you have been referred/deferred in the examination you will have the opportunity to take a second examination in the August/September re-assessment period. Where you have been referred/deferred in the essay you will be required to resubmit the essay. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%; deferred marks are not capped.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Most of the research discussed will be drawn from journal articles and several book chapters (available on ELE). However, those interested in a scholarly overview of moral cognition research will find the following books useful:

Fuggle, P., Dunsmuir, S., & Curry, V. (2013). CBT with children, young people and families. London: Sage

Stallard, P. (2002). Think good – feel good: A cognitive behavioural therapy workbook for children and young people. John Wiley and sons: Chichester

Verduyn, C., Rogers, J., & Wood, A. (2009). Depression: Cognitive behaviour therapy with children and young people. Routledge: Hove

Additional suggested texts:

Kendall, P., & Hedtke, M. A., (2006). Cognitive behavioural therapy for anxious children: Therapist edition (3rd edn). Ardmore, USA: Workbook publishing

Kendall, P., & Hedtke, M. A., (2006). The coping cat workbook (2rd edn). Ardmore, USA: Workbook publishing

Westbrook, D., Kennerley, H., & Kirk, J. (2011). An introduction to cognitive behaviour therapy: Skills and applications (2nd edn). London: Sage.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Guidelines issues by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) are highly relevant, and are available online at:

Consider for example:

National Institute of Health and Care Excellence:

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Psychology, morality, social cognition, moral cognition, emotion, linguistics, dual processes, moral psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, philosophy, legal theory

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

PSY2203 or equivalent

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date