Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for anxiety

Did you know anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder amongst children and adolescents? Fifty years of research on child and adolescent anxiety shows substantial support for cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) as an effective and appropriate first line intervention. A first line intervention means that clinicians might want to start here when determining an appropriate treatment method for their client.

The most recent large scale review of treatments for child and adolescent anxiety took place in 2015. Higa-McMillan and her colleagues looked at 111 treatment outcome studies testing 204 conditions in randomly controlled trials involving children and/or youth who met diagnostic criteria for anxiety and/or avoidance problems published between 1967 and 2013.

In their review, six well-established treatments providing the best support for childhood and adolescent anxiety were identified: CBT, exposure, modeling to promote imitation, CBT with parents, psychoeducation to assist caregivers with anxious children and adolescents and CBT plus medication. Categorised as “Level 1” treatments, these methods had been evaluated amongst participants of different ages (varying from 3 – 18 years) and ethnic backgrounds. These treatments were also tested with therapists of varying levels of training as well as delivery in different formats. This included individual and group formats, parent or teacher groups, to phone or online delivery. Finally, these treatments were evaluated across a wide range of different settings including clinics, daycare and schools.

Other treatments which were consistent with CBT received good support and were categorised as “Level 2” treatments: Family psychoeducation, relaxation, assertiveness training and attention control.

These findings suggest that the class of interventions comprising CBT and exposure-based interventions are supported by a strong and diverse research base and that clinicians selecting a first-line intervention for this age group may start the search here. Several factors such as the child’s family characteristics, intervention setting and format will be taken into consideration to ensure the treatment protocol best meets the client’s needs.

Determining suitability for group programs

To ensure that the program is suitable for your family, it would be beneficial to obtain an understanding of where your child is at. Although the program is universal, and thus suitable to most children, there are several important things we need to know and we strongly encourage you to speak with us. For example, it’s helpful for us to know whether your child has received support from any allied health professional, if your child has a recent mental health diagnosis, what your child’s strengths and challenges are and your child potential behaviour in a group setting.

We have also worked with children who currently attend (or have attended) individual psychological

sessions and as such, The FRIENDS Programs are viewed as a complimentary intervention which enables children to normalise their emotional experiences in a supervised group setting.

Resilience Kit runs developmentally targeted evidence-based resilience programs for children:

Ages 4 – 7 years

Ages 8 – 11 years

Ages 12 – 15 years

Citation:

Higa-McMillan, C. K., Francis, S.E., Rith-Najarian, L., & Chorpita, B. F. (2015). Evidence Base Update: 50 Years of Research on Treatment for Child and Adolescent Anxiety, Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 45(2), 91-113.