PCIT for Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent mental health conditions, affecting up to 10% of young children. Research has shown that, when left untreated, anxiety disorders can lead to a host of difficulties into adolescence and adulthood. Therefore, early identification and treatment of anxiety disorders is important.
Although cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) of childhood anxiety is considered the gold standard for anxiety disorders, treatments for children ages 7 and below have only begun to attract more attention in the past decade. Since young children generally lack the developmental skills to effectively engage in the “C” portion of CBT, more behavior-based models have emerged as the treatment of choice for young children experiencing anxiety.
The CALM program (Coaching Approach behavior and Leading by Modeling) was developed as an intervention to treat anxiety disorders in young children ages 3 to 7. The CALM program is an adaptation of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). It is a parent-focused treatment designed to increase a“brave” behavior by way of live parent-child coaching. The CALM model can be used for a wide range of anxiety-based behaviors.
In addition to the CALM approach, BCSC offers an adaptation of PCIT designed specifically for young children with separation anxiety. This model was designed by Dr. Donna Pincus at Boston University and has shown to reduce parent stress and decrease separation anxiety with results maintained at one-year follow up.
Oftentimes, disruptive behaviors have an underlying anxiety component that needs to be initially treated. As part of the consultation process, BCSC clinicians will work with families to determine what function a behavior is serving for a child when developing a comprehensive treatment plan.