Alleviating Specific Phobias Experienced by Children Trial (ASPECT)
How can we help children who have phobias? A specific phobia is a type of anxiety disorder which causes an overwhelming and unbearable fear and avoidance of whatever is causing the fear (e.g. an animal, situation, activity, etc.). It is estimated that between 5% and 10% of children have a specific phobia which impacts on their everyday lives and lasts for an average of about 20 years. Despite this, fewer than 10% report asking for help with their phobia. Specific phobias can cause distress and considerable problems at home and school and interfere with day-to-day activities. The most common treatment for specific phobias in the UK is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a type of talking therapy that uses different techniques to help people to change unhelpful patterns of thinking around specific phobias. However, CBT usually requires multiple sessions and so it is expensive in terms of time. Additionally, people need to attend several sessions which can result in them not completing them all. A promising alternative to CBT is One Session Treatment (OST). Unlike CBT, OST does not require an extensive treatment period. Instead, a combination of treatment techniques including graduated exposure therapy, participant modelling, reinforcement, psycho-education, cognitive challenges and skills training are consolidated into a single three-hour session. However, OST has not been compared to the routine and most successful treatment for specific phobias, CBT. The aim of this study is to find out whether specific phobias can be successfully treated using OST.