Publication Date

2011-06-01

Availability

Embargoed

Embargo Period

2013-05-31

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2011-05-10

First Committee Member

Jill Ehrenreich May

Second Committee Member

Kiara Timpano

Third Committee Member

Neena Malik

Fourth Committee Member

Craig Marker

Abstract

Anxiety and depressive disorders are prevalent among youth and are often experienced concurrently or sequentially during development (Kroes et al., 2001; Costello, Erklani, & Angold, 2006). These disorders are also associated with weaker cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) outcomes when experienced simultaneously in youth (e.g. Berman, Weems, Silverman, & Kurtines, 2000). Treatment research has begun to investigate the feasibility and efficacy of treating comorbid emotional disorders using transdiagnostic treatment approaches (Barlow et al., 2010; Ehrenreich et al., 2008). Evidence from adult and adolescent populations indicates that these more broadly focused treatment programs may offer benefits above and beyond disorder- and domain-specific protocols, leading to improvements in diagnostic severity and emotion regulation across a range of disorders and emotions (Ellard, Fairholme, Boisseau, Farchione, & Barlow, 2010; Ehrenreich-May & Remmes, 2010). The current study extends transdiagnostic treatment research to school-age children, ages 7-12, in a mental health clinic setting by investigating preliminary post-treatment outcomes and treatment acceptability in a recent open trial (N enrolled= 16; N completed treatment=13) of the Emotion Detectives Treatment Protocol (EDTP; Ehrenreich-May & Laird, 2009). Results revealed that participants experienced significant improvements in clinical severity ratings of principal and all related diagnoses, as well as in parent reported anxious and parent and child reported depressive symptoms at the post-treatment assessment. Additionally, parents reported gains in child coping and improvements in dysregulation across emotional domains (including worry, sadness, and anger). The EDTP had good retention rates, moderately good attendance, and parents and children reported high levels of treatment satisfaction. The results of this open trial provide preliminary evidence for the utility and acceptability of a transdiagnostic group protocol to treat both clinical anxiety disorders, as well as self- and parent-reported anxious and depressive symptoms for youth within a mental health setting. These results suggest that children may uniquely benefit from a more generalized, emotion-focused treatment modality, such as the EDTP, that can offer flexibility in its treatment targets to families as well as mental health clinicians.

Keywords

Transdiagnostic Treatment; Anxiety; Depression; School-Age Children; Cognitive Behavioral Treatment; Group Treatment

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