Exploring the role of parent training in the treatment of childhood anxiety

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2009 Oct;77(5):981-6. doi: 10.1037/a0016920.


Data from a randomized clinical trial comparing the relative efficacy of individual cognitive-behavioral therapy (ICBT), family CBT (FCBT), and a family-based education/support/attention control (FESA) condition were used to examine associations between in-session therapeutic techniques related to parent training (PT) and treatment outcomes. This study explored the extent to which therapists' use of PT techniques, specifically (a) parental anxiety management, (b) transfer of control from therapist to parent to child over child's coping, (c) communication skills training, and (d) contingency management training, contributed to treatment outcome in family-based CBT. Children (N = 53; 31 males; 7.8-13.8 years of age; M = 10.1 years, SD = 2.3; 85% Caucasian, 9% African American, 4% Asian, 2% "other" background) with a principal anxiety disorder completed 16 sessions of CBT with their parents. The relative contributions of PT components on treatment outcome were evaluated. As hypothesized, both transfer-of-control and parental anxiety management techniques significantly contributed to improvement on clinician and parent ratings of child global functioning within FCBT. PT did not significantly contribute to improvement on measures of child anxiety. These preliminary findings suggest that when FCBT is conducted for child anxiety, PT (i.e., transfer-of-control and parental anxiety management techniques) may contribute to improvements in the child's global functioning.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Child
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Communication
  • Education / methods*
  • Family Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics