Getting Parents Involved in Treatment Reduces Childhood Anxiety

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.

© Copyright 2012 All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • melanie R

    melanie R

    October 20th, 2012 at 5:03 AM

    Because here’s the thing that I have noticed- anxious kids have anxious parents. . . and I think that this proves that!
    You take away the anxiety fromt he parents and I think that you will automatically see a marked improvement in how well the child deals with anxiety too!
    That seems a little simplistic and I get that but I think that kids feed off of their parents and learn their own behavior from that of the parents.
    Temper down the stress and anxiety of the parents and teach them better ways to cope and I think that the children will then see another way for them to deal with their own issues and it will be so positive for all.

  • Rochelle


    October 20th, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    Any kind of parent who wouldn’t get involved with their child’s treatment when it involves something as serious as this, well then I am not even sure that they deserve to be a parent.

  • Evelyn


    October 20th, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Kids are always looking to parents for that refuge – be it in real terms or in emotional terms. If they are anxious they will look towards the parents for peace and solace. But if the parents themselves show their anxiety to children,how are the kids supposed to feel any better?

    An image of someone who can handle things and is not anxious himself/herself,and is willing to help the child through his anxiety should be what the parents need to aim for.

  • sammi


    October 22nd, 2012 at 4:32 AM

    I know that the inclination is to want to have the parents involved, but don’t you know that there are sometimes those parents who do way more harm than good. As a matter of fact, I don’t think that we would disagree that many times the parents are the very ROOT of the problem. So maybe there are some cases where the parents just need to be more hands off and let the professional do their jobs better.

  • Ned.L


    October 22nd, 2012 at 11:42 PM

    I have to disagree,sammi.While parents could be the root of the problem,I think here we are considering a problem wherein parents can play the role of an enabler,enabler of treatment.They are trained themselves with regard to the problem the child has and this can and will certainly help them help the child at home too,and not just at the weekly (or whatever) meet with the doctor.

    I think this practice should be encouraged because not only is it benefiting the children but also educating the parents and thereby improving their parental skills in turn.

  • frances


    October 23rd, 2012 at 7:46 AM

    Family bonding can prove to be a big factor in times of fear and anxiety.And especially so for children who always look towards parents for guidance.This is a good therapy method to have.And extra cheers for the family involvement in it.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.