Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Skills in Children: The Role of Executive Function, Empathy and Theory of Mind.

Carroll, Amy (2013) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Skills in Children: The Role of Executive Function, Empathy and Theory of Mind. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Background and Research Aims
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) has become an increasingly popular frontline
treatment in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Benjamin et al., 2011)
and treatment efficacy with children has received significant empirical attention (Graham
& Reynolds, 2013). The adaptation of CBT for children has led to the development of
tasks intended to assess core CBT skills (such as distinguishing between and linking
thoughts, feelings and behaviours, Quakley, 2002). The aim of this study is to explore the
relationship between three developmental modalities (executive functioning, empathy
and theory of mind) and performance on tasks assessing CBT skill. The developmental
modalities were hypothesised to be related to both the demands placed on children by the
CBT skills tasks, and to children’s ability to engage in CBT.
A quasi-experimental correlational design was employed. Eighty-eight normally
developing children between five and eight years old were assessed. Individual
assessment with each child included three measures of CBT skill (Quakley, 2002), the
Tower of London assessment (Shallice, 1982), age appropriate first and second order
theory of mind tasks (Liddle and Nettle, 2006) and a brief measure of IQ (Wechsler,
1999; 2003). In addition one parent of each child was asked to provide parent-report data
on their child. This included measures assessing empathy, executive functioning and
their child’s overall strengths and weaknesses.
Initial exploration of potential confounding variables identified significant effects of age and general intelligence on performance on the both CBT skills tasks and measures of executive functioning, empathy and theory of mind. Through investigation of the research hypotheses, small but significant findings were identified between superior performance on the CBT skills tasks and higher child assessed executive functioning and theory of mind ability. However these results were not maintained when age and IQ were controlled for. No significant relationships were identified between performance of the CBT skills tasks and parent-rated executive functioning or empathy.
The results of this study suggest that children’s ability to demonstrate CBT skill is not related to executive functioning, empathy or theory of mind, however CBT skill was significantly influenced by children’s age and IQ. A number of methodological considerations are discussed that suggest that these findings should be interpreted cautiously. Future research should seek to address identified methodological limitations and investigate the validity of the CBT skills tasks employed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Rehabilitation Sciences (former - to 2014)
Depositing User: Users 2259 not found.
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2014 16:36
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2014 16:36

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