The Role of Emotion Regulation in the Treatment of Child Anxiety Disorders
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- Hannesdottir, D.K. & Ollendick, T.H. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev (2007) 10: 275. doi:10.1007/s10567-007-0024-6
In this review, we examine the role of emotion regulation in the treatment of children with anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to “work” for children with anxiety disorders and it has been categorized as an evidence-based treatment. However, most studies have shown that the treatment is effective for about 60–70% of children, leaving the remaining children symptomatic and oftentimes with persisting psychological disorders. Of importance, it has also been shown that many children with anxiety disorders demonstrate poor emotion regulation skills. Despite these findings, little attention has been directed toward incorporating emotion regulation strategies into these relatively effective cognitive-behavioral treatments. It is possible that CBT programs do not work as well for a portion of children because their emotion regulation deficits, if present, are not being targeted sufficiently. In this review, it is suggested that adding an emotion regulation component could increase treatment efficacy. In addition, strategies aimed at improving emotion regulation at the individual level and at the family level are introduced. Details of how improved emotion regulation skills could be beneficial in bringing about change are discussed. Finally, issues of measurement and the clinical implications for research and practice are considered.