Effects of Group-Based CBT on Post-Event Processing in Children with Social Anxiety Disorder Following an Experimental Social Stressor
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Theoretical models and previous research suggest that post-event processing (PEP) after social situations maintains social anxiety disorder (SAD). To date, little is known about PEP in childhood, a critical period for disorder development, or about possible positive effects of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) on PEP in children. Children with SAD (n = 71; aged 9–13 years) and healthy controls (n = 55) participated in a social stress task (Trier Social Stress Test for Children, TSST-C), which was repeated in children with SAD after either 12 sessions of CBT or a waiting period. PEP was assessed daily with regard to both valence and frequency, as well as in more detail regarding specific negative and positive ruminative thoughts 1 week after each TSST-C. Daily PEP after the TSST-C was more frequent and more negative in children with SAD compared to healthy controls, in particular during the first 2 days after the TSST-C. After CBT treatment, children with SAD reported more positive PEP but not less negative PEP compared to children in the waitlist control group. The current study suggests that negative PEP in children with SAD is most pronounced in the first days following social stress. Group-based CBT seems to be effective in building up positive cognitions after social stress in children, but developing specific interventions targeting negative PEP immediately after a social stressor may be necessary to further increase treatment efficacy.
KeywordsRumination Social phobia Child Treatment
cognitive behavioral therapy
Child Depression Inventory
Daily Thoughts Questionnaire for Children
social anxiety disorder
Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory for Children
Thoughts Questionnaire for Children
Trier Social Stress Test for Children
This research was supported by a grant from the DFG given to the last authors (HE 3342/4–2, TU 78/5–2).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. An independent ethics committee (ethic committee of the German Society for Psychology [DGPs]) granted ethical approval for this study (registration code: Tuschen-Heinrichs 11_2010, approval issued 28/11/2010).
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants (both parents and children) included in the study in written form.
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