Monday, February 25, 2008

Anxious mothers, anxious children

It is well known that there is an increased rate of anxiety among the parents of anxious children and a recent study showed that two thirds of mothers of a sample of children being treated for anxiety suffered from it themselves. At the same time maternal anxiety has been found to predict the outcome of a child's treatment for anxiety almost halving the success rate in some studies. A study of 22 children and their mothers by researchers at the University of Reading saw them receiving cognitive behavioural therapy aimed at reducing their children's anxiety. Of the 12 mothers who met the criteria for an anxiety disorder 6 received CBT and assessments were made of the mother-child interactions of the participants. Those children whose mothers had an anxiety disorder did less well but treatment of the mothers' anxiety disorders did not, in itself, improve outcomes for their children. Maternal overinvolvement and expressions of fear were associated with poorer outcomes though suggesting that it was the anxious mothers' parenting styles rather than their anxiety per se that had the biggest effect on outcomes, and that attempting to alter these parenting styles would be more effective than tackling mothers' anxiety in helping children.

Creswell, Cathy ... [et al] - Treatment of child anxiety: an explorartory study of maternal anxiety and behaviours in treatment outcome Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy January-February 2008, 15(1), 1-14

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