Treatment for Child and Adolescent Anxiety

By | January 18, 2015
Psychological Treatment for Child and Adolescent Anxiety

Psychological Treatment for Child and Adolescent Anxiety

Child and adolescent anxiety comes in many forms, fortunately psychologists have an effective treatment for child and adolescent anxiety. The most effective anxiety treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has shown to be one of the most effective forms of therapy overall (Weisz et al, 2005). Now this does not discredit other forms of therapies as many are effective in reducing anxiety, but Weisz et (2005) showed that research suggests cognitive behavioral therapy as the preferred method of treatment for child and adolescent anxiety based disorders.

One common form of anxiety is social phobia. As the name suggests individuals with this condition tend to fear any form of social activity. To clarify, this is not simply disliking a social situation. This is a fear and it is often irrational or disproportionate. Two studies were conducted  comparing both dimensions of CBT treatment (cognitive and behavioral). Beidel, Turner, and Morris (2000) conducted a study where children engaged in a type of behavioral therapy. The main aspects of the therapy seem were teaching skills to the children and exposure based therapy. Overall the children had decreased levels of anxiety and became more competent in operating within their social environments. Melfsen et al (2011) focused on more cognitive models for treatment. In their study, therapists and psychologists educated participants about social phobia, taught them to regulate attention, and instructed them in cognitive restructuring. Like Beidel et al (2000), participants in this study had a significant decrease in social anxiety, and many did not even qualify for the diagnosis. While both forms of therapy are effective, the combination of the two is more prevalent because of the complementary nature of the two therapies.

While Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) now has its own section in the DSM-V, it is often associated with anxiety. To clarify, OCD has two distinct symptoms: obsessions and compulsions (American Psychiatric Association (APA), 2014). Obsessions are thoughts that constantly intrude our awareness, and compulsions are the actions that one does to reduce or temporarily relieve themselves of the obsessions. Pediatric OCD follows these guidelines. Like anxiety disorders, CBT is the most frequently used form of therapy due to its empirical support in effectively treating this condition. Olatunji et al (2012) conducted a meta-analysis to test the effectiveness of CBT on control groups. In this study the researchers found that for children (and adults) CBT significantly reduced anxiety. Children also seemed to have benefited from CBT for OCD more than the adults in some aspects.


Beidel, D. C., Turner, S. M., & Morris, T. L. (2000). Behavioral Treatment of Childhood Social    Phobia. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68(6),1072-1080

Melsten, S., Kuhnemund, M., Schwinger, J., Warnke, J., Stadler, C., Poustka, F., & Stangier, U.   (2011). Cognitive behavioral therapy of socially phobic children focusing on cognition:           randomised wait-list control study. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health,          5(5), 1-12

Olatunji, B.O., Davis, M.L., Powers, M.B., & Smits, J.A.J. (2013). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder: A meta-analysis of treatment outcome and      moderators. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 47, 33-41

Weisz, J.R., Weiss, B., Han, S.S., Granger, D.A., & Morton, T. (1995). Effects of psychotherapy             with children and adolescents revisited: A meta-analysis of treatment outcome studies. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 450-468.

–Treatment for Adolescent and Child Anxiety was written by our Psychology Intern, Brett Wallace, in January 2015.

We offer treatment for child and adolescent anxiety as well as anxiety treatment for adults. Our main method of treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy. There are many variants of cognitive behavioral therapy and we off the most popular and most effective. Call us today for an appointment at 904-379-8094.

Our highly experienced and credential providers include a board certified clinical psychologist (doctor of psychology), a mental health counselor, and two clinical social workers. All our providers conduct life coaching if your condition or your child’s condition does not warrant a clinical diagnosis. Cognitive behavioral coaching will be provided if that is the case.

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