Transdiagnostic Behavior Therapy for Bullying-Related Anxiety and Depression: Initial Development and Pilot Study

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The majority of school-age youth experience some form of bullying, and the consequences can have significant impact on a child's or adolescent's social, emotional, and academic functioning. The majority of anti-bullying initiatives have focused on schoolwide prevention programs aimed to enhance school climate and a school's response to bullying incidences. Few programs address the socio-emotional functioning of youth who are experiencing significant anxiety and mood problems following exposure to bullying. The current paper describes the development of a transdiagnostic behavioral activation and exposure program (Group Behavior Activation Therapy for Bullying) designed to address internalizing problems secondary to bullying. Case descriptions and clinical outcomes are reported from a pilot group of 5 youth (ages 12 to 13). Video clips of group demonstrations are included for illustrative purposes. Attendance was strong and group satisfaction ratings indicated the program was feasible and acceptable to conduct in school settings. Initial outcomes suggest that youth experienced benefits in anxiety and depression diagnoses, symptom outcomes, and functional impairment related to bullying. However, larger controlled evaluations are required to support any conclusions about treatment efficacy.



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