Understanding participants’ perspectives : a qualitative study of a cognitive-behavioral intervention with a parent-training component for anxious youth
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Anxiety disorders are the most common psychological disorders in school-age children. This high prevalence is problematic because anxiety can have detrimental impairments on children and adolescents’ behavioral, social, academic, and emotional functioning. Therefore, many researchers have investigated the most effective treatments for anxious youth. Many randomized control trials have demonstrated that Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is effective for treating pediatric anxiety. However, research has also shown that there is a significant proportion of anxious youth who continue to have an anxiety disorder diagnosis post-treatment. Furthermore, while research demonstrates that CBT can treat anxiety, little is known about how or why this intervention is beneficial. It is unclear if the effectiveness stems from certain aspects of the CBT treatment itself, such as exposures or cognitive restructuring, or if treatment is successful due to other more universal aspects of the intervention, such as a strong therapeutic alliance or certain client characteristics. Some researchers also posit that including parents in the treatment of anxious youth should help to enhance the effectiveness of CBT interventions, but the research has yielded mixed results. Gaining insights into the perspectives of youth and parents who have completed a CBT intervention could help clarify the beneficial aspects of treatment. CBT is part of a collaborative process between the therapist and the client, but if the participants’ perspectives on the treatment process and outcome are not obtained, then a key person responsible for change is being neglected. In order to truly understand how children and adolescents change in therapy, the participants have to be given a platform to share and amplify their voices and make their perspectives known. The primary aim of this dissertation study was to support youth and parents in sharing their perspective in order to gain a greater understanding of the lived experiences of what it is like to participate in a CBT intervention program. This study evaluated youth and parents’ perspectives through semi-structured interviews. A qualitative research method was used to assess the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of the participants of a CBT intervention program with a parent-training component. Specifically, interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to gain a better understanding of the therapeutic change experience.