Family therapy sessions may reduce the risk of child anxiety for children who live in families where at least one parent is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
In the study, the researchers separated 136 families into three different groups: the intervention group in which the families participated in therapy sessions, the control group which only received handouts about anxiety disorders, and a third group which received neither.
In all of the families there was at least a child ages six to thirteen and at least one parent who suffered from an anxiety disorder. According to the National Institute of Health, anxiety disorders are defined by acute feeling of fear and anxiety, and they include agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, etc.
Over the course of a year, those in the intervention group took part in eight, two-hour long therapy sessions that were held by a qualified therapist.
At the end of the year the results showed that nine percent of the children from the intervention group had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder during that year, compared with twenty-one percent of the children from the control group, and thirty-one percent of children who received neither therapy sessions, nor handouts about anxiety disorders.
Researchers also found that almost half of the children, whose parents (or parent) suffer from an anxiety disorder, develop a similar disorder as well. However, having a parent who suffers from an anxiety disorder is only one of many other things that can trigger the same disorder in children.
“These illnesses are multidetermined, meaning there isn’t just one factor that determines if a child will have or develop an anxiety disorder,” Golda Ginsburg, a psychology professor at the University of Connecticut (UConn), stated.
Some other factors that can lead to the development of an anxiety disorder are a person’s temperament or the person’s experiences growing up. For instance, those who have negative experience in life are more likely to suffer from anxiety, Ginsburg stated.
The families from the intervention group were taught how to reduce anxiety in children, by gradually exposing them to what made them fearful. They also learned to spot the signs of anxiety at an early stage and to deal with them by using problem-solving abilities.
According to Jamie M. Howard, a clinical psychologist and director of a resilience and stress program at the Child Mind Institute in New York City, parents should teach their children who suffer from anxiety that there is a difference between things that are truly dangerous and things that do not pose a threat at all.
Image Source: centerforanxiety