Studies of treatment outcomes of CBT for youth, with both internalizing (e.g., anxiety disorders, depression) and externalizing difficulties (e.g., aggression), have provided some empirical support (i.e., the data document beneficial gains associated with CBT treatment). For example, randomized clinical trials of CBT for anxious youth (e.g., Kendall et al., 1997) have been reviewed and deemed as evidence that CBT is probably efficacious in treating anxiety disorders in youth (Kazdin & Weisz, 1998; Ollendick & King, 2000). Follow-up studies suggest that the reductions in anxiety symptomatology are maintained posttreatment (e.g., Barrett, Duffy, Dadds, & Rapee, 2001; Kendall et al., 2004). A review of school-based programs for treating depression in youth revealed that in five out of the six studies, CBT was more effective than no treatment or to wait-list control (Curry, 2001).
CBT for externalizing disorders have resulted in less consistent results. For example, CBT for ADHD has been found to be less effective than medication (e.g., MTA, 1999). However, CBT for aggression and conduct-related problems (e.g., Kazdin, 2002; Lochman, 1990; Lochman, Whidby, & FitzGerald, 2000) may be effective in reducing aggressive behavior and increasing prosocial behavior. Unfortunately, it is not clear that gains can be maintained over time and generalized to other situations.
CBT emphasizes the important interplay among cognitive, behavioral, affective, contextual, and socioemotional variables in the etiology and maintenance of problems in children. CBT strategies are used to address the specific needs of the child within his or her real and perceived environment. Empirical support suggests that CBT can be an efficacious treatment for youth. Although it is reasonable to suggest that CBT for children can be helpful in treating childhood psychopathology, research is needed (a) to better understand the role of "in-session" process variables (e.g., child involvement) that may predict outcome and (b) on the forces that influence the transportability of CBT from research clinics to community service clinics.
See also: Aggressive and antisocial behavior in youth, Anxiety— children, Children—behavior therapy, Play therapy
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