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11-01-2021 | Original Paper | Uitgave 2/2021

Journal of Child and Family Studies 2/2021

Beyond 16 Sessions: Extending Manualized Treatment of Anxious Youth

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 2/2021
Elana R. Kagan, Hannah E. Frank, Mark J. Knepley, Philip C. Kendall
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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is well established as an efficacious treatment for anxious youth, yet a number of youth remain symptomatic after the 10–16 sessions of treatment stipulated by most CBT treatment manuals. While a significant minority do not respond, no study has examined the frequency and impact of additional therapy sessions. This study examined youth receiving outpatient therapy at an anxiety clinic who were offered the option to continue treatment after completing 16 sessions of manual-based CBT. Fifty-nine percent of participants chose to continue treatment, with an average of approximately 20 total sessions across participants. Therapist ratings demonstrated a significant overall improvement between session 16 and the final session. No pre-treatment measure of symptom severity differed between those who extended treatment and those who ended at session 16. Parent-rated anxiety differed between groups at session 16, as did the length of time to complete 16 sessions. Findings indicate that extending treatment is not uncommon, is typically limited to several additional sessions, and is associated with an increase in treatment gains. Current results suggest that two factors at session 16, parental perceptions of anxiety and time to complete 16 sessions, are influential and may be central to the decision to continue treatment past this point. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.

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