[Psychotherapy for anxiety disorders in childhood and adolescence--what is evidence-based?]

Z Kinder Jugendpsychiatr Psychother. 2006 May;34(3):191-201; quiz 201-2. doi: 10.1024/1422-4917.34.3.191.
[Article in German]


Anxiety disorders are the most frequent mental disorders in children and adolescents. They are also an important risk factor for psychological disturbances in adulthood and require adequate treatment. The effectiveness of psychotherapy in the treatment of anxiety disorders today can no longer be questioned. However, a meta-analysis of treatment studies shows that so far, only cognitive-behavior therapy has proved, on the basis of randomized, controlled trials (RCT), to be successful in the treatment of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Regardless of whether the cognitive behavior therapy took place individually or in a group, or whether it was carried out with the child alone or with the inclusion of the family, no differences in the effectiveness were found. The follow-up data show that the therapy success persisted for several years and that it was not limited only to the symptoms of anxiety. Although for many psychotherapeutic interventions there is still no empirical basis, initial RCT prove the short-term effectiveness of psychopharmacological treatment (SSRI). The central, empirically validated psychotherapeutic interventions include psychoeducation, cognitive treatment of dysfunctional thoughts, and systematic exposure to the situation triggering anxiety. These interventions will be presented briefly and open questions in psychotherapy research will be discussed in the conclusion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Child
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors