Provide Psychosocial Skills Training and Cognitive Behavioral Interventions

What to Know

Psychosocial skills training and cognitive behavioral interventions teach specific skills to students to help them cope with challenging situations, set goals, understand their thoughts, and change behaviors using problem-solving strategies.

Psychosocial skills training asks students to explore whether their behaviors align with their personal values. Cognitive behavioral interventions teach students to identify their own unhelpful thoughts and replace them with thoughts that are more helpful. Students might practice helpful coping behaviors and find positive activities to try. Doing these things can improve their mood and other symptoms of mental distress.

Districts and schools can deliver interventions in one-on-one settings, small groups, and classrooms. Some interventions focus on concepts that are also taught in social skill and emotional development programs, like self-control and decision-making. A counselor or therapist can lead these programs.

What Can Schools Do?

Promote Acceptance and Commitment to Change

Provide Cognitive Behavioral Interventions

Engage Students in Coping Skills Training Groups

Focus on Equity

Students who have been exposed to trauma may receive trauma-focused or trauma-informed interventions in school. Cognitive behavioral interventions that are trauma-informed meet the unique needs of students exposed to traumatic experiences. These interventions teach problem-solving and relaxation techniques and help reduce trauma-related symptoms, including behavioral challenges. Trauma-informed interventions can also improve students’ coping strategies.

Implementation Tips

Cognitive behavioral interventions and psychosocial skills training help with many kinds of student needs. They can be used at multiple grade levels. Leaders can:

  • Work with school mental health staff to find ways for students to practice their new behaviors and coping skills.
  • Use the Multitiered Systems of Support (MTSS) framework to ensure that students are appropriately matched with classroom, small-group, or individual interventions that meet their needs.