Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Young Children with Anxiety: A Focused Review
Anxiety is more prevalent than thought earlier in children and may manifest when they are as young as 4-5 years of age. Many researchers have believed that anxiety symptoms in pre-schoolers and young children are transient difficulties that children grow out of. However, research studies have shown that childhood anxiety persists into adulthood. It is, therefore, necessary to identify anxiety early in children and treat it to prevent long term negative impact. Studies have shown that several mechanisms may account for the observed association between parent and child anxiety including genetic/ biological factors, environmental factors, parenting practices and modeling of anxiety and avoidance by parents. Although cognitive behavioral interventions have been evaluated with older children successfully, there is much less literature on using this approach with younger children.
This paper reviews available literature on the effectiveness of using cognitive behavioral techniques with children, especially younger children (below eight years) – the techniques that can be used, the modifications needed, use of parents as co- therapists and unique developmental considerations. The current understanding and research on clinical outcomes are discussed. Use of technology in delivery of CBT to children is reviewed. Long term outcomes in children treated with CBT are also summarized.