Topic: Anxiety Treatment (Child & Adolescent)
Definition for Anxiety Treatment (Child & Adolescent):
Anxiety Treatment (Child & Adolescent) is defined by the CEBC as the treatment of youth with a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, or with elevated symptoms of anxiety as demonstrated by a standardized screening or assessment tool. Common symptoms may include excessive worry and anxiety, panic, irritability, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, restlessness, fatigue, and palpitations.
Please note that trauma-specific and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) interventions are listed in the Trauma Treatment topic area.
The CEBC has evaluated only replicable programs that do not use medication as an essential component of treatment. The Pharmacological Treatments for Children and Adolescents with Mental Health Disorders page has links to reputable organizations that list information on medications used to help treat children and adolescents with anxiety and other disorders.
- Target population: Youth with a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, or with elevated symptoms of anxiety as demonstrated by a standardized screening or assessment tool
- Services/types that fit: Typically outpatient services - usually either individual or group, but occasionally family therapy or services also
- Delivered by: Mental health professionals
- In order to be included: Program must specifically target anxiety as a goal
- In order to be rated: There must be research evidence (as specified by the Scientific Rating Scale) that examines anxiety-related outcomes, such changes in symptom levels, behaviors, and/or functioning
Programs in this Topic Area
The programs listed below have been reviewed by the CEBC and, if appropriate, been rated using the Scientific Rating Scale.
One Program with a Scientific Rating of 1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence:
- Coping Cat
[Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety in Youth]Children experiencing problematic levels of anxiety
One Program with a Scientific Rating of 2 - Supported by Research Evidence:
- Building ConfidenceTypically developing school-aged children diagnosed with childhood anxiety disorders (6-11 years old) and their families
Six Programs with a Scientific Rating of 3 - Promising Research Evidence:
- C.A.T. ProjectAdolescents with anxiety
- Child-Centered Group Play Therapy (CCGPT)Children ages 3 to 10 who are experiencing social, emotional, behavioral, and relational problems
- Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT)Children ages 3-10 who are experiencing social, emotional, behavioral and relational problems
- Cool Kids Anxiety Program
[Cool Kids]Children and adolescents suffering anxiety disorders
- Cool Kids Outreach ProgramChildren and young adolescents suffering anxiety disorders who are unable to attend standard clinical practice
- Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Children (MBCT-C)Children ages 8- to 12-years old with anxiety or depression; can be modified for both younger and older children
Why was this topic chosen by the Advisory Committee?
The Anxiety Treatment (Child & Adolescent) topic is relevant to child welfare because documented research shows that children who enter the child welfare system, particularly those that are removed from their home, experience a significantly higher rate of mental health problems, including anxiety than children in the general population. . This is not surprising, and is likely the result of a number of contributing factors. These factors may include events that precipitated child welfare intervention including abuse, neglect, and abandonment, as well as factors associated with placement, including separation, loss, anger, and fear.
While the child welfare system has historically focused on the physical and safety needs of children, emerging practice within agencies across the country is to now take into account the emotional needs of children as well. Child welfare agencies along with mental health providers have come to recognize the need for timely, appropriate, and effective anxiety treatment services that support children and families in achieving successful outcomes. In addition, early assessment and timely treatment intervention have been recognized as playing a key role in ensuring successful outcomes for children. As a result, a growing number of new initiatives and programs are being implemented within California counties that support the delivery of an array of mental health services to children and families receiving child welfare services. These services range from mental health screening and assessment to individualized treatment for identified needs.
Additionally, there is heightened awareness among professionals that the delivery of children's mental health services must be carefully coordinated across child serving agencies to thoroughly address their complex needs. Whether children remain living with their parents or are placed outside the home, it is critical that all children in the child welfare system be screened and assessed. Moreover, parents and caregivers must be trained to identify early signs of mental distress enabling them to seek early intervention and appropriate care and treatment.
Division Chief, Community-Based Support Division
Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services
Amanda Jensen Doss, PhD, Assistant Professor
Child Division of the Department of Psychology, University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL