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Making progress with CBT

Youth Eastside Services
Teen girl in winter

YES is hosting a CBT+ Learning Collaborative Training and Consultation course Dec. 12-14. The course is currently full. Email Diane Klindt,, to be added to the waitlist.

Last year, I attended the CBT+ Learning Collaborative Training and completed a six-month follow-up consultation. Before the training, I had been working for a community mental health agency and was fresh out of graduate school. I was seeking more concrete, evidence-based experience to add to my tool belt, which already consisted of motivational interviewing, health behavior change (an integrative biopsychosocial model), and mindfulness-based practices.

CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, allows a client to explore their thoughts, feelings and behaviors in order to understand how they influence one another, and ultimately, to change them in positive ways. CBT has been shown to be effective for a wide range of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety disorders.

Through the training, I learned how to use assessment tools not only to accurately identify and describe symptoms, but also to engage clients in the therapeutic relationship. After the client and I better understand their symptoms, we are able to work together to identify therapeutic targets — such as reducing depression or anxiety — and create specific goals as a team.

For clients with anxiety, I could use a fear ladder to help identify steps for exposure therapy. For clients with depression, I learned how to reinforce goal-directed behavior rather than mood-directed behavior. For clients with trauma, I learned how to create and use a trauma narrative effectively. For clients with behavior problems, I learned how to engage parents and teach them skills and strategies for more effective parenting.

CBT training has changed how I work with my clients, and I’ve found that helping them identify thoughts, feelings and behaviors aids them in discussing patterns and learning new coping skills like relaxation, mindfulness, distraction and others. Since the training last year, I’ve been using CBT and trauma-focused CBT in my work, and I’ve been seeing a change not only in my clients — but also in myself as a clinician.

Justin Daigneault has worked as a Youth and Family Therapist at YES since 2014, serving diverse populations of children and families in high need. He coordinates and facilitates YES’ BGLAD group, which fosters support and builds community for LGBTQ+ youth. Justin has received a specialization as a Sexual Minority Mental Health Specialist for working with this population and advising others on best practices. This year, he received YES’ annual Diversity Achievement Award for his work engaging others around LGBTQ+ issues and culturally-sensitive needs. He is a graduate of Bastyr University.

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