Combating childhood anxiety involves participation from clinicians, educators, children, and parents. Many anxious children have parents who also exhibit symptoms of anxiety. The heightened anxiety level of parents can increase anxiety in children, creating a vicious cycle. To help avoid the negative outcomes associated with anxiety, including drug and alcohol use, academic challenges, and depression, it is imperative to provide effective treatment to children and parents in need. One group of individuals that has been overlooked in recent research is the Hispanic community. Latinos and Hispanics represent the largest minority population within the United States and have higher rates of anxiety than white Americans. Therefore, interventions designed for Latino/Hispanic children should be explored for efficacy and viability.
To accomplish this, Amrando A. Pina of the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University recently led a study that compared the outcomes of 88 children assigned to either cognitive behavioral therapy with maximal or minimal parental involvement. The children were Latino and white and had an average age of 10. The parents involved in the maximum support group received training, and each program was delivered in English and Spanish. The results revealed that traditional cognitive behavioral therapies addressing anxiety were significantly effective at reducing anxiety in the children. “In addition, gains and maintenance were most evident for children whose parents were more involved in the intervention,” Pina said. Those whose parents had minimal involvement saw smaller reductions.
When Pina examined the difference between Spanish- and English-language programs, he found relatively no difference in outcomes. Overall, the parent participation seemed to produce highly positive outcomes for children and parents, regardless of ethnicity. Although the findings presented here are encouraging, Pina hopes that future studies will use larger sample sizes and explore varying cultural nuances to determine if a similar approach will work with other segments of the population experiencing challenges with anxiety.
Pina, Armando A., Argero A. Zerr, Ian K. Villalta, and Nancy A. Gonzales. Indicated prevention and early intervention for childhood anxiety: A randomized trial with Caucasian and Hispanic/Latino youth.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 80.5 (2012): 940-46. Print.
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