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2 - Affective and cognitive processes and the development and maintenance of anxiety and its disorders

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 March 2010

Wendy K. Silverman
Affiliation:
Florida International University
Philip D. A. Treffers
Affiliation:
Rijksuniversiteit Leiden, The Netherlands
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Summary

Introduction

The cognitive view of childhood anxiety assumes that anxiety is mediated by distorted and maladaptive cognition. Although research examining these cognitive mediational processes in children is limited, the evidence that childhood anxiety is associated with distorted cognition is growing. Cognitive variables thought to be involved in the development and maintenance of anxiety include negative cognition, worrying, causal attributions and biased attention and memory processes. The majority of studies on cognition and childhood anxiety has focused on the valence and content of cognition.

Several reviews of the research literature concluded nearly a decade ago that the understanding of cognitive disturbances in anxious children was limited and only beginning to emerge (Francis, 1988; Kendall & Chansky, 1991). Particularly, three issues were then considered to be in need of increased research attention: the cognitions of clinically anxious children, a comparative analysis of cognitive assessment measures and cognitive coding systems, and the relationship of anxious children's cognitions to adaptive and maladaptive functioning. The past years have witnessed an increase in research attention with respect to these issues.

Although childhood anxiety researchers have begun to document the importance of cognitive factors in understanding and treating childhood anxiety disorders (Kendall, 1994; Vasey & Daleiden, 1996), the level of complexity apparent in adult models (see Mathews & MacLeod, 1994) remains lacking in the child domain. Moreover, much of the existing theorizing is extended from clinical and experimental observations with adults, such as Beck's cognitive theory of anxiety.

Type
Chapter
Information
Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents
Research, Assessment and Intervention
, pp. 23 - 44
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2000

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