Effectiveness of a transdiagnostic computerized self-applied program targeting children with emotional problems: A randomized controlled trial

J Affect Disord. 2023 Oct 1:338:155-162. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2023.06.004. Epub 2023 Jun 2.


Background: Super Skills for Life (SSL) is an eight-session transdiagnostic program based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), aimed at the indicated prevention of childhood emotional problems, which has been implemented with positive short- and long-term results. The present study aimed to examine the effects of a self-applied computerized program based on SSL that maintains the same objectives and contents as the face-to-face program.

Methods: In this randomized controlled study, 75 children (49.3 % female) aged 8-12 years (Mage = 9.45, SD = 1.31), selected for exhibiting emotional symptoms, were randomly assigned to either the intervention (n = 35) or the waiting list control (WLC) group (n = 40). Pre- and post-intervention data were collected through self-reports and the report of parents who completed parallel versions of the same measures of emotional and behavioral problems.

Results: Overall, compared to the WLC group, the intervention group showed positive effects on targeted emotional symptomatology in the short term. Based on parents' reports, a significant reduction was found in outcomes such as anxiety, depression, emotional symptoms, and internalizing problems, while self-reported results were similar except for anxiety. In addition, a positive impact was found on symptoms related to other types of difficulties (e.g., externalizing problems and general difficulties measured).

Limitations: Small sample size, non-inclusion of follow-up assessment and other informants (e.g., teachers).

Conclusions: In conclusion, this research provides novel and promising data on the self-applied computerized adapted version of the SSL program, within a multi-informant approach, suggesting that it may be a useful tool for the indicated prevention of childhood emotional problems.

Keywords: Children; Emotional problems; Indicated prevention; Self-applied computerized intervention; Super Skills for Life.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / prevention & control
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety* / psychology
  • Child
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Self Report