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Educational Specialist (EdS)




Donna Gilbertson


This study evaluated the impact of anxiety reduction on academic engagement for eight students experiencing significant anxiety in grades three through five. All participating students showed high anxiety levels that appeared to be impacting performance on at least one academic task in the classroom, according to teacher report. Student participants received a modified cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in the form of five 20-minute sessions, in the school setting. Also as part of treatment participants completed exposure tasks, which involved the child participating in anxiety provoking academic tasks, with adult support. To assess whether or not anxiety was reduced, participants completed Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDS) ratings several times weekly and the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED) both pre- and post-treatment. The Direct Behavior Rating (DBR) was used to monitor students’ academic engagement and was completed by the teacher. Results of this study show that this intervention, conducted in the school setting, has promising outcomes. The findings provide initial support that a modified anxiety treatment with adult support can be effective in reducing anxiety and increasing academic engagement.



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