Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxious children: From evidence to practice

Monique C. Sawyer, Diane Nunez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Anxiety is the most common mental health problem in children, yet less than one third of children with anxiety disorders seek treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is recommended as a first-line treatment for childhood anxiety. However, current practice generally does not include CBT due to issues of feasibility, affordability, and transportability. Aims: The primary purpose of this review was to appraise current literature regarding the effectiveness of individual CBT for childhood anxiety. Secondary purposes were to identify reasons for the discrepancy between current evidence and practice as well as to offer suggestions to overcome this dilemma. Methods: A systematic review of the literature published between 2007 and 2012 was conducted, searching four databases-Cochrane, PubMed, CINAHL, and PsycINFO. Findings: In all 10 studies reviewed, individual CBT significantly reduced rates of anxiety diagnoses when compared with controls, and was equally effective or superior to comparison therapies. The only exception was when CBT was compared to a combination of CBT and pharmacological management, in which case the latter was more effective. Linking Evidence to Action: Each study included in this review employed hour-long sessions over a minimum of 12 visits. In order to meet clinical demands and patient preferences, affordability, and feasibility of CBT interventions must be addressed. A brief, manualized CBT program that can be supported to be clinically effective is proposed as an evidence-based solution for anxious children in outpatient mental health and primary care settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-71
Number of pages7
JournalWorldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Anxiety
  • Child
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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