Profiles of Temperament among Youth with Specific Phobias: Implications for CBT Outcomes
Specific phobias (SPs) are characterized by excessive fear or anxiety regarding an object or situation. SPs often result in a host of negative outcomes in childhood and beyond. Children with SPs are broadly assumed to show dispositional over-regulation and fearfulness relative to children without SPs, but there are few attempts to distinguish dispositional patterns among children with SPs. In the present study, we examined trajectories of differing temperamental profiles for youth receiving a CBT-based treatment for their SP. Participants were 117 treatment seeking youth (M Age = 8.77 years, Age Range = 6–15 years; 54.7% girls) who met criteria for a SP and their mothers. Three temperament profiles emerged and were conceptually similar to previously supported profiles: well-adjusted; inhibited; and under-controlled. While all groups showed similarly robust reductions in SP severity following treatment, differences among the three groups emerged in terms of broader internalizing symptoms, externalizing symptoms, and global outlook. The well-adjusted group was higher in functioning initially than the other two groups. The inhibited group had initial disadvantages in initial internalizing symptoms. The under-controlled group showed greatest comorbidity risks and had initial disadvantages in both internalizing and externalizing symptoms. These distinct clusters represent considerable heterogeneity within a clinical sample of youth with SP who are often assumed to have homogenous behavior tendencies of inhibition and fearfulness. Findings suggest that considering patterns of temperament among children with phobias could assist treatment planning and inform ongoing refinements to improve treatment response.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10802-016-0255-4
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