What is CBPT?

Cognitive Behavioural Play Therapy (CBPT) is a type of Play Therapy which merges the traditional and very successful Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Play Therapy which can help manage problems by changing the way your child thinks and behaves through play and creative arts.  

It is most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.

CBPT can help your child deal with problems in a more positive way. It is based on the concept that thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap someone in a vicious cycle.

CBPT aims to help your child crack this cycle by breaking down overwhelming problems into smaller parts and showing your child how to change these negative patterns to improve the way your child feels.

Unlike some other talking treatments, CBPT deals with current problems, rather than focusing on issues from the past. It looks for practical ways to improve your child's state of mind on a daily basis through play and creative arts. 

"CBPT is an active and directional intervention
in which the therapist and child work together
in establishing goals and choosing
play materials and activities."


Cognitive Behavioural Play Therapy is:

  • Structured
  • Goal-orientated
  • Short-term
  • Collaborative with the child and its family
  • Guided by both the child and the therapist
  • Play-based
  • Psycho-educational


Who can benefit from CBPT?

CBPT has been shown to be an effective way of treating a number of different mental health conditions, in particular Anxiety and Mood Disorders:

  • Phobias
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Mood Disorders (Depression)

What are the differences between CBPT and traditional Play and Creative Arts Therapy?

CBPT is similar to what people know as Play and Creative Arts Therapy. They both rely on a positive therapeutic relationship that is based on rapport and trust as well as the use of play activities as a means of communicating between therapist and child, and the message that therapy is a safe place.

The difference is that CBPT is a more active and directional intervention in which the therapist and child work together in establishing goals and choosing play materials and activities. The CBPT therapist is also part educator, where new skills are taught to the child. 
In contrast to traditional Play and Creative Arts Therapy in which play takes whatever direction the child chooses and therapist takes on whatever role the child assigns. Rather than teaching or changing behaviour directly, traditional Play and Creative Arts Therapy provides a safe environment for the child to act out and release his or her emotional conflicts in a non-directional method.

Why is the therapeutic relationship so important?

"We can't change
the past, so we change
how people are thinking,
feeling, and behaving

- Albert Ellis


 The therapeutic relationship that develops between your child and Dr. Madeleine Vieira is very important. Your child must feel comfortable, safe and understood. This type of trusting environment makes it easier for the child to express his/her thoughts and feelings and to use the therapy in a useful way. It is also crucial that your child knows you are supporting the process.

How long does CBPT last?

CBPT is much shorter intervention than some other kinds of therapy, which can go on for years.
The average number of sessions children attend is 16. This takes about 4 months. But each person is different, and the number of recommended sessions can vary depending on how long the symptoms have persisted and how complicated they are.

Sessions are 50 minutes and take place once weekly. 40 minutes of the session is spent with the child and 10 minutes for Dr. Madeleine Vieira, child, and parent(s) to review the session and to determine homework for the coming week. It is very important that the child and parents work on tasks from CBPT in their home environment. These tasks help the child move skills from the therapy room to his or her life.

Consistency of a set day and time and place is very important in the process. Unplanned missed sessions may disrupt progress.

What happens in CBPT sessions?

During the sessions, we will work to break down your child's problems into their separate parts such as the thoughts, physical feelings and actions. 
We will analyse these areas to work out if they are unrealistic or unhelpful and to determine the effect they have on each other and on your child. We will then be able to help your child work out how to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.
After working out what can be changed, we will ask your child to practise these changes in his daily life and discuss how this went during the next session.

The eventual aim of therapy is to teach your child to apply the skills he has learnt during treatment to his daily life. This should help your child manage his problems and stop them having a negative impact on his life, even after the course of treatment finishes.



“It was really good to talk to Dr. Madeleine. She always made me feel welcome and comfortable so it was easier to talk about my problems that made me feel very sad and stressed. I also liked creating drawings, making sculptures out of clay, and playing with puppets. I am now so much happier than before!"
- Hannah, 8, South Kensington, London - UK

"Dr. Vieira always listened to me and helped me when I struggled with failure anxiety at school. I am now doing much better because of her."
- Nick, 9, Chelsea, London - UK

"I used to suffer from OCD, but since Dr. Madeleine helped me my symptoms have improved a lot!"
- Sophie, 9, Kensington, London - UK

"I very much enjoyed talking to Dr. Vieira about my anxiety and shyness. And creating art work was so much fun! She helped me feel more confident and now I am better able to cope with social situations. I feel so much better than last year. Thanks so much for this!"
- Maggie, 10, Fulham, London - UK