Anxiety disorders occur frequently, and can have a negative impact on the quality of people’s lives. They often begin at an early age and can have some serious consequences. This article is an overview of the recent studies concerning group cognitive-behavioral interventions for anxiety disorders. In the last few years, anxiety disorder prevention for children and adolescents has become an important focus of research work. Group prevention programs are based on standard cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies and are aimed at preventing anxiety disorders as early as possible. Numerous cognitive behavioral group therapies for children as well as adults have been well studied. There are many CBT protocols that have been developed for treating specific anxiety disorders. Now, specialized CBT programs are available for individuals who suffer from different anxiety disorders, enabling them to be treated together in groups Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Groups.
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Group-based treatment programs
Several studies have evaluated the effectiveness of CBT group programs in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Manual-based treatments proposed to individuals or groups have an equal effectiveness in the reduction of anxiety symptoms in children. CBT group-based programs are extensively studied for several reasons. Group models may offer more positive peer modeling opportunities, reinforcement, and social support. They are also a convenient option with regard to the limited availability of child-focused CBT therapists. Child and adolescent group programs are aimed at treating one specific, already existing anxiety disorder. However, most of these programs were created to treat several disorders together in the same group. The Coping Cat program has been the most evaluated CBT program for treating children. It is a 16-week program intended for children between 8 and 17 years old, and can be used as a group program. The first eight sessions are centered around the basic CBT concepts. During the following eight sessions, the child learns how to use new skills in different situations of anxiety. The FRIENDS program, mentioned earlier, is an Australian adaptation of the Coping Cat program. In 2005 Flannery-Schroeder et al conducted a study in a group of children aged between 8 and 14 years old. They concluded that the Coping Cat program had a positive effect, at least up to the 1-year follow-up Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Groups.
Concerning adult treatment, a number of cognitive-behavioral group therapies have been developed for specific anxiety disorders, such as social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder with agoraphobia and other disorders such as insomnia and depression. These specific group-based programs have proven their effectiveness, but it could be costly for mental health clinics to offer different specific treatments, or to obtain enough participants who suffer from the same anxiety disorders. More recently, studies have focused on the high rate of comorbidity and the similarities between the anxiety disorders.
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The majority of treatment programs have a lot of similarities (eg, psychological education, cognitive restructuring, graduated exposure).There are certain authors who are specifically interested in the development of a unique protocol for treatment of all anxiety disorders combined. A general approach is used, and focuses on excessive fear of something rather than on specific fears that characterize specific anxiety diagnostics. In 2012, Norton published a transdiagnostic treatment manual for therapists who wanted to set up a CBT group. His CBT protocol focused mainly on psychoeducation, cognitive restructuration, exposure, and relapse prevention. Before publishing the manual, Norton examined the effectiveness of the 12-week transdiagnostic therapy group. The efficacy of the transdiagnostic treatment model for different multiple anxiety disorders was confirmed. In 2007, Erickson et al performed a random clinical trial and evaluated the protocol’s effects based on traditional CBT techniques in groups. The participants presented different anxiety disorders. The results showed that the CBT transdiagnostic treatment had positive results. Currently, this unified approach is being extensively studied. This type of group treatment may provide better access to evidence-based treatments accessible to a larger amount of individuals. Treatment studies have also been carried out by using the transdiagnostic group approach for other types of disorders such as eating disorders Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Groups.
Over the last few years, CBT group-based interventions have taken on an important role in the prevention and treatment of anxiety, in many different ways. These group models help give better access to evidence-based treatments and better clinical efficiency. These criteria are essential in providing easier access to an appropriate form of treatment. Compared with individual CBT treatment formats, providers must be aware of several influential factors that must be taken into account in order to have positive and productive group sessions. However, it is still important to continue studying these group models and to set new research goals. Currently, part of the research conducted is based on better understanding of the factors that will influence the evolution of anxious symptomatology during group-based programs. Further studies should be done on the question of fidelity and adaptation in the creation of well-established CBT group programs Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Groups.
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