Children's Perspectives of an Enhanced Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Child–Parent Dyads With Anxiety Disorders

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Prior research has extensively evaluated the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for child anxiety disorders—however, few studies have investigated anxious children's perspectives and experiences of participating in CBT. This qualitative study explored children's acceptability of a newly developed enhanced CBT intervention, designed specifically for the treatment of anxiety disorders in children with a clinically anxious parent. The study also explored children's perceptions and experiences of individual (child only) and joint observational (child–parent) exposure activities that were key to the intervention. Ten children (age range 6–11, M = 8.5 years) and their mothers (age range 34–45, M = 39.5 years) completed in-depth semistructured interviews to investigate child participants’ anticipated and experiential acceptability of the enhanced CBT intervention. Thematic analysis revealed seven major themes broadly reflecting the acceptability, appropriateness, and perceived benefit of the intervention elements, with particular value credited to exposure tasks and the dyadic nature of the intervention. Findings suggest that future experimental evaluation of the enhanced intervention is warranted. Further, the study highlights that CBT for child anxiety disorders, where exposure work is a feature, is acceptable and perceived to be effective by its intended treatment recipients. Trial prospectively registered, preresults, ANZCTR1261900033410.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Apr 2022


  • child anxiety disorders
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • exposure
  • qualitative methods
  • thematic analysis

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