One-session treatment for specific phobias: a review of Öst's single-session exposure with children and adolescents

Cogn Behav Ther. 2013;42(4):275-83. doi: 10.1080/16506073.2013.773062. Epub 2013 Aug 20.


The purpose of this brief paper is to review the current status of one-session treatment (OST) for specific phobias in children and adolescents. Following a brief historical overview and description of OST, we systematically describe eight studies that have examined its efficacy in children and adolescents aged between 7 and17 years. We also explore phobia subtypes, age, gender, and comorbidity as possible moderators of treatment outcome. Studies have been conducted in Australia, Austria, the Netherlands, the USA, and Sweden. Although there is limited evidence that OST works better for animal phobias than other subtypes of phobias and for girls than boys, across studies there is considerable evidence that it is generally effective across phobia subtypes and for both boys and girls. No age differences in outcomes were noted, nor were any differences noted due to comorbidity. OST was found to be equally effective with children and adolescents with co-occurring multiple phobias and other anxiety disorders. Moreover, in at least one study, it was found to reduce untreated phobic and anxiety disorders in addition to the treated phobias. It is concluded that OST is a highly effective intervention for the treatment of specific phobias in children and adolescents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology
  • Phobic Disorders / therapy*
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome