Interventions For Childhood Worry

Unfortunately, there are (to this author's knowledge) no interventions that have been directed specifically at childhood worry. There are now a number of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) based treatments that appear to have efficacy in treating childhood and adolescent anxiety in general (e.g. see Cartwright-Hatton, Roberts, Chitasabesan et al. (2004) for a review). However, these interventions have largely been targeted at the emotional (e.g. fear) and physiological aspects of anxiety. Very few treatment protocols have modules specifically for dealing with worry. Indeed, because of the developmental limitations on children's ability to use the more cognitive elements of CBT, most interventions focus heavily on behavioural elements, such as exposure and relaxation. If evidence from the adult literature is indicative, it seems unlikely that these elements will have a substantial impact on worry. Where cognitive elements are incorporated into treatment, these are usually limited to some 'positive self talk', or basic 'talking back' to fears. The newer approaches to worry, as taken in the adult field, such as stimulus control of worry, and attentional training, have not yet been reported in the child literature. Given the evidence cited above, it seems likely that where such interventions are found to have utility with adults, there is merit in attempting these with children. Developmental considerations would clearly need to be taken into account, but the reduced load that these interventions place on cognitive, and in particular, linguistic manipulation of information, suggests that they might have particular applicability for young worriers.

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