Family treatment of child anxiety: outcomes, limitations and future directions.
Creswell C., Cartwright-Hatton S.
Anxiety of childhood is a common and serious condition. The past decade has seen an increase in treatment-focussed research, with recent trials tending to give greater attention to parents in the treatment process. This review examines the efficacy of family-based cognitive behaviour therapy and attempts to delineate some of the factors that might have an impact on its efficacy. The choice and timing of outcome measure, age and gender of the child, level of parental anxiety, severity and type of child anxiety and treatment format and content are scrutinised. The main conclusions are necessarily tentative, but it seems likely that Family Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (FCBT) is superior to no treatment, and, for some outcome measures, also superior to Child Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CCBT). Where FCBT is successful, the results are consistently maintained at follow-up. It appears that where a parent is anxious, and this is not addressed, outcomes are less good. However, for children of anxious parents, FCBT is probably more effective than CCBT. What is most clear is that large, well-designed studies, examining these factors alone and in combination, are now needed.