Date of Submission

2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chair, Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Diane Smallwood, PsyD, NCSP

Second Advisor

Virginia Salzer, PhD

Third Advisor

Michael Blum, PhD

Abstract

Anxiety disorders are common in children and youth. Despite high prevalence rates, most children with anxiety disorders do not receive treatment. In fact, for the few children who are receiving treatment, schools are the primary source of mental health care. When left untreated, children experience significant disruptions in their academic, social, emotional, and behavioral functioning. Therefore, it is important for those working in schools to recognize and treat children with anxiety disorders. The present study surveyed school psychologists (n = 178) to assess their knowledge about anxiety disorders and about empirically supported school-based treatments. Also, this study sought to investigate school psychologists’ knowledge about many of the difficulties faced by children and youth with anxiety disorders. In addition, this study sough to gain an understanding of the referral and identification processes involving children with anxiety disorders in school and the types of services and supports available to students with anxiety disorders. Results of this study indicated that the majority of school psychologists are at least somewhat to very knowledgeable about most types of anxiety disorders and related educational difficulties, with doctoral level school psychologists being more knowledgeable. However, few school psychologists reported being very knowledgeable about empirically supported school-based treatments for anxiety disorders. Another major finding was that behavior consultation was the most frequently reported approach to address anxiety symptoms. Despite cognitive behavioral (CBT) therapy receiving the greatest support, empirically, as an effective treatment, very few schools offer CBT as a treatment option. Also, few school psychologists reported being very competent in the delivery of CBT principles and interventions. Directions for future research are offered and implications for practitioners are discussed.