Childhood Anxiety and Aggression Project

The Childhood Anxiety and Aggression Project is investigating specific thinking styles that may contribute to the occurrence of anxiety and/or anger in children. The project is being conducted by intern Clinical Psychologist Tracy Rhodes enrolled in the Doctor of Clinical Psychology degree, under the supervision of Dr Caroline Hunt and Dr Sandra Heriot.

Who can participate?

Boys and girls aged 8 to 14 years who have difficulties with either:

  • Anxiety
  • Anger or aggressive behaviour
  • Both anxiety and anger

What are we looking at?

The study will investigate four aspects of children's thinking that may influence their behaviour at home and/or at school. These include:

  • Social problem solving skills
  • Ability to self monitor and control their behaviour
  • Understanding of other people's behaviour
  • Feelings about themselves as a person

How long will it take?

The assessment session with your child will take approximately 1.5 hours at a suitable time for you and your child. All assessments are conducted at the University of Sydney Psychology Clinic.

You and your child's teacher will also be asked to complete 2 questionnaires which take approximately 1/2 hour to complete. However, if you do not want your child's teacher to be contacted or involved in the study we will not contact them and you can still participate in the study.

Why is this study important?

The project may increase our understanding of what children with difficulties with anxiety and/or anger think about themselves and others, and how this impacts on their social and personal adjustment. Consequently, the findings will have important implications for the development of effective screening, early intervention programs and treatment strategies for children with difficulties as a result of their anxiety and/or anger.

What if my child needs help with anxiety and/or aggression?

We are also studying the treatment of anxiety (such as worries, fears, avoidance) when it occurs together with angry or aggressive behaviour. Both anxiety and aggression, if left untreated, tend to be chronic and can be associated with worse long-term consequences. We also offer treatment groups for children with anxiety or aggression alone.

We are currently treating children aged 8 - 14 years at minimal cost using well-established group treatment programs that aim to teach children coping skills to deal with their anxiety and aggression. These skills include:

  • problem-solving
  • learning to recognise emotions
  • facing fears
  • "self-talk" or "detective thinking"
  • learning consequences
  • assertiveness and social skills training

Participation in this study would involve filling in questionnaires at 3 points in time (before and after treatment, and 3 months following treatment), and attending 2 assessments: one before treatment, and one 3 months following treatment. Treatment involves both parents and children, who would need to attend nine 2-hour treatment sessions over 11 weeks. The treatment is conducted in small groups of 4-6 children and their parents.

Parents of participating children have reported positive changes in their childrens anxious and aggressive behaviours, and have also indicated that their children look forward to attending groups.

If I'm interested who do I contact?

If you are interested in permitting your child to take part in this study, and you would like more information, please contact Tracy Rhodes, who will be happy to answer any questions.

Tracy Rhodes
02 9036 5008
tracyr@psych.usyd.edu.au