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Effects of Group-Based CBT on Post-Event Processing in Children with Social Anxiety Disorder Following an Experimental Social Stressor

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Julia Asbrand, Julian Schmitz, Martina Krämer, Kai Nitschke, Nina Heinrichs, Brunna Tuschen-Caffier
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10802-019-00558-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Julian Schmitz shared first authorship

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Theoretical models and previous research suggest that post-event processing (PEP) after social situations maintains social anxiety disorder (SAD). To date, little is known about PEP in childhood, a critical period for disorder development, or about possible positive effects of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) on PEP in children. Children with SAD (n = 71; aged 9–13 years) and healthy controls (n = 55) participated in a social stress task (Trier Social Stress Test for Children, TSST-C), which was repeated in children with SAD after either 12 sessions of CBT or a waiting period. PEP was assessed daily with regard to both valence and frequency, as well as in more detail regarding specific negative and positive ruminative thoughts 1 week after each TSST-C. Daily PEP after the TSST-C was more frequent and more negative in children with SAD compared to healthy controls, in particular during the first 2 days after the TSST-C. After CBT treatment, children with SAD reported more positive PEP but not less negative PEP compared to children in the waitlist control group. The current study suggests that negative PEP in children with SAD is most pronounced in the first days following social stress. Group-based CBT seems to be effective in building up positive cognitions after social stress in children, but developing specific interventions targeting negative PEP immediately after a social stressor may be necessary to further increase treatment efficacy.

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