The Therapeutic Relationship in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Pharmacotherapy for Anxious Youth

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Objective: We examined the therapeutic relationship with cognitive-behavioral therapists and with pharmacotherapists for youth from the Child/Adolescent Anxiety Multimodal Study (Walkup et al., 2008). The therapeutic relationship was examined in relation to treatment outcomes. Method: Participants were 488 youth (ages 7-17 years; 50% male) randomized to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT; Coping Cat), pharmacotherapy (sertraline), their combination, or placebo pill. Participants met criteria for generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, and/or separation anxiety disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 1994). The therapeutic relationship was assessed by youth report at Weeks 6 and 12 of treatment using the Child's Perception of Therapeutic Relationship scale (Kendall et al., 1997). Outcome measures (Pediatric Anxiety Rating Scale; Research Units on Pediatric Psychopharmacology Anxiety Study Group, 2002; and Clinical Global Impressions Scales; Guy, 1976) were completed by independent evaluators blind to condition. Results: For youth who received CBT only, a stronger therapeutic relationship predicted positive treatment outcome. In contrast, the therapeutic relationship did not predict outcome for youth receiving sertraline, combined treatment, or placebo. Conclusion: A therapeutic relationship may be important for anxious youth who receive CBT alone. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

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Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology

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This article was published in Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, June 10, 2013.

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