Parental Involvement in Youth Anxiety Treatment: Conceptual Bases, Controversies, and Recommendations for Intervention

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Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Parents are often perceived as a contributing or maintaining source of youth anxiety disorders, making them natural targets for either intervention or involvement in treatment protocols. Efforts to increase the efficacy and durability of standard treatments by incorporating parents have been successful, yet they often do not outperform child-focused treatment. Breinholst et al. (2012) review and discuss several overlooked parental research variables (anxiety, overcontrol, beliefs and assumptions, global family dysfunction) found to promote and maintain child anxiety. However, it remains unclear how these proposed variables interfere with active therapeutic ingredients (e.g., exposure) or how the identified problems might be addressed. We propose that insufficient attention to exposure-based treatment and family behavioral responses explain the comparatively low added value for parental involvement in child anxiety treatment and outline directions for research to address them. With meaningful attention being given to exposure and its accompanying variables in the treatment of childhood anxiety, we believe that treatment outcomes and intervention acceptability can be improved.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.