Cognitive behavioral therapies for individuals with cerebral palsy: A scoping review

Tamar Silberg, Nisha Kapil, Isabelle Caven, Danielle Levac, Darcy Fehlings

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Aim: To synthesize the evidence about the main intervention characteristics of cognitive behavioral therapies (CBTs) for individuals with cerebral palsy and identify barriers and facilitators to their success, focusing on aspects of feasibility and markers of success. Method: A scoping review methodology informed a literature search for papers published between 1991 and 2021. Articles were screened, reviewed, and categorized using the DistillerSR systematic review software, and critically appraised for quantitative and/or qualitative criteria. Results: Out of 1265 publications identified, 14 met the inclusion criteria. Elements associated with the specific study participant characteristics (46% female; aged 6–65 years), type of CBT techniques used (third-wave [n = 6], cognitive [n = 3], cognitive and behavioral [n = 2], biofeedback training [n = 2]), and features of the study context and methodological quality (two randomized clinical trials and small sample sizes [n ≤ 12]), were identified. Most studies had psychological targets of intervention (n = 10) and secondary physiological (n = 3) or social (n = 2) objectives. Feasibility indicators were described in nearly one-third of the papers. Interpretation: This study highlights the high flexibility within CBT interventions, enabling their adaptation for individuals with cerebral palsy. However, relatively little, and only low-certainty evidence was identified. More high-quality research in terms of specific CBT techniques, optimal treatment doses, and detailed population characteristics are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1012-1028
Number of pages17
JournalDevelopmental Medicine and Child Neurology
Issue number8
Early online date1 Feb 2023
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Mac Keith Press.


This paper was funded by the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine and the Bloorview Research Institute Ward summer student funding. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

FundersFunder number
American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine


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