Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Original Article

Eclectic approach to anxiety disorders among rural children

Abordagem eclética a transtornos de ansiedade em crianças de zona rural

Atefeh Ahmadi; Mohamed Sharif Mustaffa; Ali Akbar Haghdoost; Syed Mohamed Shafeq Mansor

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Abstract Introduction Anxiety disorders in primary school-aged children negatively affect their mental health and psychological development. Available non-medical treatments for these conditions are time-consuming and expensive. In this context, eclectic therapy is a therapeutic approach that incorporates some therapeutic techniques and philosophies to create the ideal treatment. In this study, eclectic therapy consisted of art therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy designed for children suffering from high level of anxiety in their middle childhood years. The therapy also included group guidance sessions for their mothers. The effectiveness of this intervention was examined in the study. Methods 61 students aged 9-12 years with high levels of anxiety participated in the study. Intervention A (n = 20) consisted of 9-hour eclectic therapy for children with 3-hour group guidance sessions for their mothers. Intervention B (n = 20) consisted of 9-hour eclectic therapy for children. There was also a control group (n = 21). Results Teacher ratings of children’s mental health difficulties and self-report ratings of anxiety disorders indicated a significant difference from pretest to posttest, revealing a large effect size between the two interventions. Higher levels of pretest scores significantly predicted higher posttest scores for all domains of anxiety and mental health difficulties. Furthermore, age, gender, mothers working a 15-hour day, mother’s educational level, parental divorce rates, parental death, and family monthly income predicted therapy outcomes. Conclusion Results provide support for the effectiveness of eclectic art and CBT to improve children’s mental health and reduce anxiety through changing thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors that may cause fear and anxiety.


Anxiety disorders, children, Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale, eclectic therapy, SDQ, CBT


Resumo Introdução Transtornos de ansiedade em escolares afetam sua saúde mental e seu desenvolvimento psicológico. Tratamentos alternativos disponíveis consomem tempo e são dispendiosos. Nesse contexto, a terapia eclética é uma abordagem terapêutica que incorpora algumas técnicas e filosofias terapêuticas para criar o tratamento ideal. Neste estudo, terapia eclética consistiu de terapia artística e terapia cognitivo-comportamental (TCC) planejada para escolares com altos níveis de ansiedade. A terapia também incluiu sessões de orientação em grupo para as mães. A eficácia da intervenção foi examinada. Métodos 61 escolares com idade de 9-12 anos e altos níveis de ansiedade participaram do estudo. A intervenção A (n = 20) consistiu de 9 horas de terapia eclética para crianças com sessões de 3 horas de orientação em grupo para as mães. A intervenção B (n = 20) consistiu de 9 horas de terapia eclética para crianças. Houve também um grupo controle (n = 21). Resultados Escores atribuídos pelos professores às dificuldades de saúde mental das crianças e escores de ansiedade autoaplicados indicaram diferenças significativas entre resultados pré-teste e pós-teste, revelando grande tamanho de efeito entre as duas intervenções. Escores pré-teste maiores foram preditores significativos de escores pós-teste mais altos para todos os domínios de ansiedade e dificuldades de saúde mental. Idade, gênero, mães trabalhando 15 horas/dia, nível educacional da mãe, índice de divórcio, morte de um dos pais e renda familiar mensal foram preditores de desfechos da terapia. Conclusão Os resultados sugerem a eficácia de arte eclética e TCC para melhorar a saúde mental de crianças e reduzir a ansiedade através de mudança em pensamentos, crenças, emoções e comportamentos que possam causar medo e ansiedade.


Transtornos de ansiedade, crianças, Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale, eclectic therapy, SDQ, CBT


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