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Family Therapy Can Help Children of Anxious Parents

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps children avoid developing anxiety disorders

WEDNESDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- Family-based cognitive behavioral therapy can help prevent children of parents with anxiety disorders from developing anxiety disorders themselves, according to a study published in the June issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Golda S. Ginsburg, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, conducted a study of 40 children with a mean age of 8.94 years, of whom 45 percent were girls and 90 percent were white, and all had parents with one of a broad range of anxiety disorders. While 20 families were randomized to received eight weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy, the other 20 families were put on a waiting list.

Among the families on the waiting list, 30 percent of the children had developed an anxiety disorder by 12 months after the intervention, compared to none in the cognitive behavioral therapy group, the researchers found. Anxiety levels reported by parents and independent evaluators dropped sharply from the pre-intervention stage to 12 months after the intervention in the cognitive behavioral therapy group, but not in the wait list group, the investigators discovered.

"Although replication is warranted and future studies are needed to follow youth for longer periods of time to identify if the intervention has a long-term impact, these results provide information to clinicians working with parents with anxiety disorders and to policymakers (or third-party payors) regarding additional options for how to prevent anxiety disorders in at-risk youth," the authors write.

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