Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Wendy K. Silverman

First Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Jeremy Pettit

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committee chair

Third Advisor's Name

William Kurtines

Fourth Advisor's Name

Charles Bleiker


anxiety disorders, children, adolescents, cognitive-behavioral therapy, parental involvement, reinforcement, relationship

Date of Defense



Anxiety disorders; such as separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia and specific phobia, are widespread in children and adolescents. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective in reducing excessive fears and anxieties in children and adolescents. Research has produced equivocal findings that involving parents in treatment of child anxiety enhances effects over individual CBT (ICBT). The present dissertation study examined whether parental involvement can enhance individual treatment effect if the parent conditions are streamlined by targeting specific parental variables. The first parent condition, Parent Reinforcement Skills Training (RFST), involved increasing mothers’ use of positive reinforcement and decreasing use of negative reinforcement. The second parent condition, Parent Relationship Skill Training (RLST), involved increasing maternal child acceptance and decreasing maternal control (or increasing autonomy granting). Results of the present dissertation findings support the use of all three treatment conditions (ICBT, RLST, RFST) for child anxiety; that is, significant reductions in anxiety were found in each of the three treatment conditions. No significant differences were found between treatment conditions with respect to diagnostic recovery rate, clinician rating, and parent rating of child anxiety. Significant differences between conditions were found on child self rating of anxiety, with some evidence to support the superiority of RLST and RFST to ICBT. These findings support the efficacy of individual, as well as parent involved CBT, and provide mixed evidence with respect to the superiority of parent involved CBT over ICBT. The conceptual, empirical, and clinical implications of the findings are discussed.





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