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Anxiety disorders are the most frequently diagnosed psychiatric conditions in children and adolescents. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a well-established and effective treatment for anxiety and related disorders across the lifespan. Expectations of psychotherapy have been demonstrated to affect outcomes, yet there is sparse existing literature on adolescent patient and parent perspectives of CBT prior to engagement with treatment.
This study aimed to qualitatively explore the expectations and perceptions of CBT for anxiety and related disorders among adolescent patients and parents.
Fourteen adolescent patients and 16 parents participated in semi-structured individual interviews or focus groups consisting of 2–3 participants. Interview transcripts were analysed using inductive analysis.
Three themes were identified: worries about CBT, expectations and knowledge of the CBT process, and the role of parents and families. Overall, we found that adolescents and parents had generally positive views of CBT. The outset of CBT saw adolescents and parents express concern about stigma as well as the ambiguity of CBT. Parents continued to express a lack of understanding of what CBT entailed during their child’s treatment course.
These results suggest that both adolescents and parents would benefit from early discussion and reinforcement of expectations for CBT treatment. Further research efforts are warranted and should be directed towards determining appropriate expectations for parental involvement in a child’s CBT course and effective communication of treatment expectations to both adolescents and parents.
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