Brief, parent-led, transdiagnostic cognitive-behavioral teletherapy for youth with emotional problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic

Andrew G. Guzick, Alicia W. Leong, Emily M. Dickinson, Sophie C. Schneider, Katherine Zopatti, Jamie Manis, Allison C. Meinert, Alexandra M. Barth, Mayra Perez, Daphne M. Campo, Saira A. Weinzimmer, Sandra L. Cepeda, David Mathai, Asim Shah, Wayne K. Goodman, Alison Salloum, Sarah Kennedy, Jill Ehrenreich-May, Eric A. Storch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased stress, anxiety, and depression in children. A six-session, parent-led, transdiagnostic, cognitive-behavioral teletherapy program was adapted from an established protocol to help youth aged between 5 and 13 years manage emotional problems during the pandemic. Methods: One-hundred twenty-nine parents of youth struggling with emotional problems during the COVID-19 pandemic participated in the program. Parents reported on their children's psychosocial functioning before and after treatment using validated assessments. They also reported on treatment satisfaction. Clinician-rated global improvement was assessed at each session to determine clinically significant treatment response. Results: Significant improvements in parent proxy-reported anxiety (d = 0.56), depression (d = 0.69), stress (d = 0.61), anger (d = 0.69), family relationships (d = 0.32), and COVID-19-related distress (d = 1.08) were found, with 62% of participants who completed the program being classified as treatment responders. Parents reported high levels of satisfaction with the program. Limitations: This study was limited by use of primarily parent-report assessments and a lack of a control group. Conclusions: Brief, parent-led, transdiagnostic cognitive-behavioral teletherapy appeared to be an effective way to help youth cope with the pandemic and may be a scalable framework in response to large-scale mental health crises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-137
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of affective disorders
StatePublished - Mar 15 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • CBT
  • Children
  • Depression
  • Internalizing
  • Unified protocol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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