Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of School Phobia

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Abstract

Objective

To conduct a controlled group outcome investigation of the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral treatment for school phobia.

Method

Fifty-six children with school phobia were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of cognitive-behavioral therapy or an attention-placebo control condition. Pre- and posttreatment school attendance, self-reported anxiety and depression, and diagnostic status were compared.

Results

Both the experimental and control treatments were equally effective at returning children to school. Both treatments also were effective in reducing children's anxiety and depressive symptoms. Follow-up revealed no differences between groups when the children reentered school the next school year.

Conclusions

Overall, results suggest that psychosocial treatments are effective at returning school-phobic children to school and that the highly structured cognitive-behavioral approach may not be superior to more traditional educational and supportive treatment methods. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc, Psychiatry, 1998, 37(4):404–411.

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