Learning to cope: a CBT evaluation exploring self-reported changes in coping with anxiety among school children aged 5–7 years

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Abstract

This study examined the effects of a school-based cognitive-behavioural group intervention for anxiety in young children, Get Lost Mr Scary, on child self-reported anxiety and coping skills. Participants included 65 children (Mage = 6.50 years, SDage = 0.75) drawn from 13 public primary schools located in Western Sydney, Australia. The children participated in seven weekly 1-hour Get Lost Mr Scary sessions, and their parents attended three information sessions. The pictorial semistructured Child Anxiety and Coping Interview (CACI) was used to elicit the children's self-report of their anxiety symptoms, emotions, coping strategies, and coping efficacy before and after the 7-week intervention. Although children rated their maladaptive coping strategies as helpful, the postintervention results indicated a significant decrease in the use of maladaptive strategies such as behavioural avoidance and an increase in adaptive cognitive strategies, particularly cognitive restructuring. Consistent with parent and teacher reports, child self-reports indicated a significant reduction in anxiety and negative emotional distress. The clinical implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-87
Number of pages21
JournalThe Educational and Developmental Psychologist
Volume35
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • Children
  • cognitive behavioural therapy
  • coping strategies
  • early intervention
  • school

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