Family-Based Intervention May Help Prevent Anxiety Disorders in Children, Aaron Levin, Psychiatric News, October 26, 2015
In a University of Connecticut study, researchers found that a cognitive-behavioral intervention with families with at least one parent with an anxiety disorder reduced the likelihood that children developed anxiety disorders.
As part of the intervention program, each family met individually with a trained therapist for 60 minutes a week for eight weeks. The first two sessions were for parents only, after which the children were included. As part of the program, parents learned about how to reduce modeling of anxiety, overprotection, and overall distress. The children were counseled to reduce risk factors like anxiety symptoms, social avoidance or withdrawal, or maladaptive thoughts. Families were shown how to identify signs of anxiety and strategies to cope with and reduce anxiety.
At the conclusion of the program, the children had lowered symptom scores and reductions in the parents' modeling of anxiety and their global distress were noted. These preliminary results may represent a model for early intervention for children at risk for developing anxiety disorders.