When assessing younger individuals, it is vital to consider how they differ from adults. Such areas as the young person’s family structure and relationships, potential family dysfunction, school performance, and peer friendships and pressure are vital. Children and adolescents do not have as much autonomy and responsibilities as adults, which influences their power to make decisions. As a result, they have unique sources of psychological stress and anxiety, and their wellbeing depends on factors that the surrounding systems establish. One of the critical areas for assessment is a child’s developmental level. This aspect is essential for adults as well since various mental and physical disabilities affect all ages. However, children’s and adolescents’ age does not indicate their neural or cognitive level of development in many situations. An uninformed assumption can make the cognitive-behavioral assessment (CBA) and the following therapy strategy ineffective.
For this reason, some aspects of the CBA have to be adapted to content related to youth. First of all, some adolescents and children may not have enough emotional literacy to express their emotions or explain what they are feeling or why. The youth with a lower developmental level may also struggle with accessing their thoughts on the discussed issue. The assessment has to account for limited communication and passivity in young persons’ engagement. Non-verbal communication is common among younger children, influencing the way they share, perceive, and process information. Moreover, limited cognitive and verbal skills can contribute to such passivity as well. Next, adolescents may be reluctant to engage with the therapist due to the lack of autonomy – their parents or other specialists often act as decision-makers, taking away responsibility and the ability to choose. This affects the amount of knowledge for the CBA and creates additional barriers for the evaluation.