Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Anxious Youth with a Disability: a Case Study

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the first-line psychological intervention for youth with an anxiety disorder. Despite the prevalence of anxiety in youth with physical disabilities, the application and evaluation of CBT for such youth is sparse. The current report illustrates ways to adapt, implement, and evaluate CBT for youth with anxiety and a physical disability describing “Olivia,” a 12-year-old Caucasian female with generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and cerebral palsy. Olivia received 24 one-hour sessions of outpatient CBT over the course of 9 months. At post-treatment, Olivia no longer met criteria for any anxiety diagnosis by parent- and child-report, with gains maintained at 2-month follow-up. Important therapeutic issues for working with comorbid anxious and physically challenged youth are addressed, such as therapeutic engagement, working within a multidisciplinary team, conflation of psychological and physical symptoms, parental accommodation, family interaction patterns, and modification of exposures and related treatment strategies

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Clinical Case Studies


This article was originally published online before print in Clinical Case Studies, October 2014.

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Copyright © 2014 Sage Publications

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