A Person-Centered Approach to Understanding Heterogeneity of Youth Receiving Transdiagnostic Treatment for Emotional Disorders

Sarah M. Kennedy, Niza A. Tonarely, Elizabeth Halliday, Jill Ehrenreich-May

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Transdiagnostic models of youth psychopathology posit shared, underlying core features of emotional disorders that confer risk for and/or maintain symptoms. Youth may differ in the presence and severity of these underlying core features, and matching intervention strategies to such features may help personalize transdiagnostic interventions. We used latent profile analysis (LPA) to identify profiles of youth based on core underlying transdiagnostic dysfunctions and examined associations of profiles with treatment outcome. Method: LPA was conducted with 298 youth ages 7–18.8 (Mage = 12, SD = 3.2; 48.7% female; primarily White and Hispanic/Latinx) with a primary emotional disorder. Indicators for LPA included self-report measures of affect, anxiety sensitivity (AS), distress tolerance (DT), and emotion regulation (ER). Longitudinal associations between profile membership and treatment outcome were examined in a subset of 177 youth (Mage = 11.8, SD = 3.2; 52% female; primarily White and Hispanic/Latinx). Results: LPA identified three profiles characterized by differing levels of DT, affect, and ER. A Moderately Distressed and Dysregulated profile had the largest membership (65.1%) and poorer youth-reported anxiety and depression outcomes compared to a Distress Tolerant, Regulated Expressive profile (24.9%). A Distressed, High Affect Avoidant profile (10%) had the greatest baseline severity and the poorest depression outcomes, although most youth improved. Conclusions: Youth characterized by certain profiles of transdiagnostic core processes appear to have the poorest functioning and treatment prognosis, although most youth improved. Targeting these processes more directly and/or earlier in treatment may help to improve outcomes for youth

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Latent profile analysis
  • Transdiagnostic
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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