New Research on Treating Children with Anxiety
Traditional treatment for children with anxiety includes cognitive behavioral therapy and medication if needed. During the course of therapy children are normally taught anxiety reducing techniques and strategies to help deal with anxiety symptoms. Later, as therapy progresses, exposure therapy is added. During exposure therapy, children are slowly integrated into situations causing anxiety. As children are exposed to anxiety provoking situations, they are taught to use the techniques learned to cope with their feelings of apprehension. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be effective in helping children cope with anxiety.
New research, however, has shown that introducing situations causing anxiety and fear earlier in the therapy process may be more beneficial. This research indicated children who confronted fears earlier in the process were able to function better than children using the earlier model of cognitive behavioral therapy. The more children focused on anxiety reducing techniques and the less they focused on the actual fear, the less improvements they had in functioning.
Researchers point out that not enough research has been completed in this area and more needs to be done to determine if children would benefit from confronting fears earlier in therapy, rather than at the end of the therapy process.