Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

Previous Page


B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #346

Brief Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety and Depression: Developing Efficient Interventions for Pediatric Care

Sunday, May 27, 2018
6:00 PM–6:50 PM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Coronado Ballroom AB
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Amy Murrell, Ph.D.
Chair: Amy Murrell (University of North Texas)
V. ROBIN WEERSING (San Diego State University)
Dr. Weersing is the director of the Child and Adolescent Anxiety and Mood Program (ChAAMP) at San Diego State University (SDSU) and a professor in the joint doctoral program in clinical psychology at SDSU and UC San Diego. Her research centers on the development of efficient interventions for anxiety, depression, and somatic distress in youth. Dr. Weersing’s research group has probed the effectiveness of usual community care for internalizing youth, sought to understand the effects of evidence-based interventions for these conditions when tested active healthcare practice, and developed novel treatments for internalizing youths focusing on core, behavioral transdiagnostic mechanisms of action that may be robust to dissemination. In addition to her empirical and theoretical papers in these areas, Dr. Weersing is an author of five psychosocial treatment and prevention manuals for youth internalizing disorders, and she has served as an expert consultant on practice guidelines for the screening and treatment of adolescent depression in primary care. Her program of work has been acknowledged with honors and awards from the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research, and William T. Grant Foundation and research support from the National Institutes of Health.

Depression and anxiety in youth are prevalent and impairing conditions, with a high degree of current and lifetime comorbidity. Targeting the internalizing disorders as a unified problem area is in line with calls for new approaches to conceptualizing comorbidity and a focus on transdiagnostic processes. This lecture details a 15 year program of work to develop an efficient transdiagnostic brief behavioral therapy (BBT) for internalizing problems in youth focusing on the core behavioral process of avoidance of negative affect and threatening situations. Development of the initial BBT program is described, including illustrative cases. As a capstone, results are presented of a recent major randomized controlled trial designed to test the effects of BBT compared to assisted referral to specialty mental health care (ARC) in a large sample (N=185) of children and adolescents (age 8-16) presenting with anxiety and/or depression in pediatric primary care. Overall, BBT youth had significantly higher rates of clinical response than those in ARC (56.8% versus 28.2%), and these superior effects were replicated for anxiety-specific measures and functioning outcomes. Results were particularly strong for Latino youth suggesting BBT may help reduce disparities in care outcomes. Implications for the development and dissemination of behavioral treatments are discussed.

Target Audience:

mental health professionals, intervention developers, intervention researchers, behavioral health consultants, primary care / pediatric care providers

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) understand the shared mechanisms underlying the comorbidity of anxiety and depression; (2) evaluate the value of a brief behavioral therapy designed to impact core behavioral processes of anxiety and depression; (3) assess critical factors involved in fitting interventions to the constraints of care settings and samples, with a focus on primary care.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh