Social Competence Influences CBT Treatment Response in Anxious Youth

According to a recent study published in Child Psychiatry & Human Development, there are significant associations between measures of social functioning and the severity of a child’s principal anxiety disorder. Further, social competence is likely to influence several key elements of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and CBT treatment response.

Participants (161, ages 7-14) diagnosed with a principal anxiety disorder participated in a randomized clinical trial. They received either individual CBT treatment, family CBT treatment, or an active comparison treatment (family-based education, support, and attention). According to results, children rated to be more socially competent by their mothers prior to treatment were more likely to respond positively to CBT and were less likely to have their initial anxiety continue to meet diagnostic criteria at a 1-year follow up, than children rated less socially competent. Future research should explore the mechanisms through which social competence may impact treatment response and mediators of the relationship better poor social functioning and anxiety in youth.

Settipani, C. A., Kendall, P.C. (2012). Social functioning in Youth with Anxiety Disorders: Association with Anxiety Severity and Outcomes from Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Child Psychiatry & Human Development.