The Child CARD program provides a form of treatment known as cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. Extensive research supports CBT as an effective intervention for youth anxiety and mood disorders. CBT is a structured, skills-based approach to treatment that involves multiple components including learning about anxiety and other emotions, identifying and challenging unhelpful thinking patterns, reducing physiological arousal and increasing distress tolerance, and enhancing problem solving skills. Children develop a “tool box” of coping skills that can be helpful in managing anxiety and regulating emotions. One of the most important components of CBT for youth anxiety is exposure, which involves helping children gradually face, and master, anxiety provoking situations with therapist guidance. Exposures are conducted in session as well as at home, between sessions, so that therapeutic gains can be generalized to patients’ day to day lives. To this end, completing “homework” and out of session practice of skills is an important part of the CBT. Parents also are highly involved in treatment at CARD; they are provided with skills and strategies they can use to optimally respond to their child’s anxiety at home and are often involved in the exposure process.
Individual therapy sessions typically are 50-minutes long and are scheduled on a weekly basis. The duration of treatment can vary, but CARD’s interventions are meant to be short-term, on average lasting approximately 16 weeks. However, an individualized treatment plan is developed for each patient, based on a child and family’s unique needs and strengths.