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Alleviating specific phobias experienced by children

A specific phobia is a type of anxiety disorder which causes an overwhelming fear, whatever is causing the fear. 5% - 10% of children have a specific phobia impacting their lives, lasting an average of 20 years.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a successful treatment for phobias, but there are long waiting lists and people often don’t complete all their sessions. A promising alternative, One Session Therapy (OST), utilises graduated exposure to the source of fear. It has been shown to be particularly helpful with alleviating specific phobias. Multi-session CBT is a commonly offered treatment which involves both cognitive and behavioural aspects.

Once recruited, children will be randomly allocated to receive either one session or multi-session CBT based therapy.


We are looking for:

We are looking for participants who:

  • Are aged between 7 and 16 years old
  • Experience at least one specific phobia as defined by DSM-IV criteria

Consent procedures for under 18s:
As all participants in this study will be aged 16 or under, consent will be required from both a person with parental responsibility, and the participant themselves if they are deemed competent enough to do so (i.e. they can understand the information given to them about the study, retain the information, be able to relay the information back to the research assistant and can make a decision about participation).

Where a child is not deemed competent to give full informed consent, we will take parental consent and assent from the child. Prior to this meeting, information sheets will have been received by the parents of the children and the children themselves.

In addition to the information sheet for parents and guardians, two versions of the information sheets will be available based upon age (one for those aged 7 - 11 years and one for those aged 12 - 16 years). Each potential participant will have had sufficient time to read through the participant information sheet and ask questions, either to the school contact or the ASPECT research team, before deciding whether to take part.

All information leaflets and consent forms have been be co-developed by the research team and PPI representatives to ensure acceptability amongst participants.


  • South West
  • South East
  • Yorkshire & the Humber
  • North East & Cumbria


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