Veliko Tarnovo Hall - Marinela

Children and Young People

Bite, I., Jens Högström, Ann-Katrin Job, Liria Fernández-González / Sarah Halligan (chair) Speaker

Chair: Sarah Halligan, University of Bath, UK

10:30 Behavior management program for preschool children: STOP 4-7 in Latvia
Bite, I., Lapsina, I., de Mey, W., University of Latvia, University of Ghent

10:45 Social attention in youth with social anxiety disorder and the impact of cognitive behavioral therapy
Jens Högström, Karolinska Institute, Sweden
Johan Lundin-Kleberg, Miriam Larson Lindal, Ebba Taylor, Terje Falck-Ytter, Eva Serlachius

11:00 Effect of a Brief Intervention Based on Implicit Theories of Personality on Adolescent Aggressive Behaviors toward the Partner
Liria Fernández-González; Esther Calvete; and Izaskun Orue, University of Deusto

11:15 Results of a Randomized Controlled Study on the Efficacy of a Triple P Group Training for Foster Parents with Young Foster Children
Ann-Katrin Job, Daniela Ehrenberg, Nina Heinrichs, University of Braunschweig
Arnold Lohaus, University of Bielefeld
Kerstin Konrad, University Hospital Aachen

11:30 Discussion


1) Behavior management program for preschool children: STOP 4-7 in Latvia
Bite, I., Lapsina, I., de Mey, W., University of Latvia, University of Ghent

The program STOP 4-7 was invented in Belgium as the effective ecological method for behavior management in children with externalized behavior problems age 4-7. The program includes 10 weeks ' long group training for children,  individual and group work for parents, and teachers' training based on behavior therapy principles and methods . Children with ADHD , mild ASD or learning disabilities can be included.  Since 2015 the program the program has been implementated in Latvia with some small modifications. The effectiveness of the program has been tested in 30 participants. Results indicated significant changes in externalized behavior scale of CBCL, lower parenting stress according to PSI scales, and  more positive parenting according to Ghent parenting questionnaire.

 Social attention in youth with social anxiety disorder and the impact of cognitive behavioral therapy
Jens Högström (1, 2), Johan Lundin-Kleberg (3), Miriam Larson Lindal (4), Ebba Taylor (4), Terje Falck-Ytter (3, 5), Eva Serlachius (1, 2)
1) Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Centre for Psychiatry Research, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
2) Stockholm County Council, Stockholm, Sweden
3) Uppsala Child and Baby Lab, Department of Psychology, Uppsala University, Sweden
4) Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Division of Psychology, Psychology program, Stockholm, Sweden
5) Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

To successfully navigate the social world we have to attend to complex and quickly shifting information such as facial expressions and emotional display. Work in psychology and neuroscience has demonstrated that typically developing children are remarkably apt at doing this. However, many children with social anxiety have a difficulty directing their attention flexibly and adaptively to social events, typically manifested as avoidance of eye contact or hyper-vigilance towards potential social threat (e.g., someone looking angry). This atypical social attention has been suggested to be involved in the etiology as well as in the maintenance of social anxiety disorder (SAD) but there is a lack of knowledge about these attentional mechanisms in youth and if they can be affected by psychological treatment. In this study, we tested the specificity of some fundamental social attention mechanisms that have been linked to SAD and their relationship to the outcome of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for adolescents with SAD.
Participants (N=24) were adolescents with SAD who were matched on sex and age with (N=22) non-anxious controls. In the SAD group, social attention was measured with a corneal reflection eye-tracker before and after the participants went through 12 weeks of CBT. The non-anxious control participants were recruited through a random selection of youths from the Swedish population register. The SAD diagnosis was established with the M.I.N.I-kid interview and social anxiety was measured using the Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory - Child version (SPAI-C).
Adolescents with SAD were found to be more vigilant to threatening social stimuli, compared to when they were confronted with neutral or positive stimuli. I.e. they were faster to shift their gaze towards peripheral threat stimuli. However, this attention bias was also found in the non-anxious control group. Similarly, participants in the SAD group were found to be quicker to shift their gaze away (avoidance) from threatening social stimuli, once a fixation had occurred. This effect was however also seen for the non-anxious controls. Furthermore, analyses showed that level of vigilance to threat at baseline did not predict the outcome from CBT, and there was no effect of CBT on vigilance after treatment.
Although an elevated vigilance toward threat was found in the SAD group, this attention bias was also seen in the non-anxious group, indicating that for adolescents this form of atypical attention does not distinguish SAD from the normal population. This is in line with some previous findings showing that this difference between SAD and non-anxious individuals does not become noticable until adulthood. Furthermore, attention bias did not predict the outcome from CBT indicating that CBT is a treatment that works well notwithstanding the degree of vigilance that particpiants present with. Nor did the level of vigilance change over the course of CBT treatment, pointing in the direction that attention bias has more of a trait like character, that may be difficult to change.
Youths attend to threatening social stimuli differently than to neutral and positive stimuli and this seem to be the case whether or not they have SAD. Futher studies with larger samples are needed to confirm these results.  


3) Effect of a Brief Intervention Based on Implicit Theories of Personality on Adolescent Aggressive Behaviors toward the Partner
Liria Fernández-González, Esther Calvete, Izaskun Orue, University of Deusto

Since the first romantic relationships are established during adolescence, implementation of preventive interventions during this developmental stage opens a window of opportunity for the prevention of partner aggression. Previous prevention programs have shown efficacy in modifying cognitions and attitudes related to dating violence, although behavioral changes have been reported in very few cases. Recent innovative brief interventions based on changing entity theories of personality (i.e., the belief that people cannot change and personal characteristics are fixed; Miu & Yeager, 2015) have provided good results for preventing depression and other behavioral problems in adolescents. Therefore, the principal aim of this study is to examine whether a brief one-hour intervention based on promoting the idea that people can change shows efficacy in the prevention of perpetration and victimization of dating aggressive behaviors (both online –cyber dating abuse– and traditional –face-to-face dating aggression–) in adolescents.
A double-blind randomized controlled trial with two parallel groups was conducted in a sample of 443 adolescents from four high schools in the province Bizkaia (Spain). Participants were randomized in a 1:1 ratio blocked by gender to one of two groups (experimental versus control condition). The final sample of this study was composed by those participants (n = 64; 57.8% females) who reported having had a dating relationship in the last 6 months both at baseline (one week before intervention) and 6-month follow-up (experimental group [n = 30], and control group [n = 34]). Mean age of participants was 15.28 years (SD = 0.95) and the sample distribution by school grade was as follows: grade 8 (15.6%), grade 9 (28.1%), and grade 10 (56.3%). Dating aggressive behaviors were assessed through a self-report questionnaire.
There were not significant differences between groups (experimental versus control condition) in gender, age, school grade and dating aggressive behaviors at baseline. The mixed between-within subjects analyses of variance (with group, gender and grade as between-subjects variables) revealed a significant interaction between time and group for the four types of aggression analyzed (i.e., perpetration of cyber dating abuse, victimization of cyber dating abuse, perpetration of traditional dating violence, and victimization of traditional dating violence). Participants in the experimental group showed significant lower mean scores on aggressive behaviors than participants in the control group at six-month follow-up compared to baseline.
Findings suggest that perpetration and victimization of aggressive behaviors (online and offline) decrease in female and male adolescents after the implementation of an intervention based on implicit theories of personality. Relevant implications for dating violence prevention in terms of efficiency and duration of interventions are discussed. Nevertheless, future studies should explore longer-term effects, as well as the mediating mechanisms that explain the achieved benefits.
Brief interventions promoting an incremental theory of personality (i.e., the belief that people can change and personal characteristics are not fixed) shows promise for the prevention of dating aggression in female and male adolescents.

Results of a Randomized Controlled Study on the Efficacy of a Triple P Group Training for Foster Parents with Young Foster Children
Ann-Katrin Job, University of Braunschweig, Germany; Daniela Ehrenberg, University of Braunschweig, Germany; Arnold Lohaus, University of Bielefeld, Germany; Kerstin Konrad, University Hospital Aachen, Germany; Nina Heinrichs, University of Braunschweig, Germany

Young children who have experienced maltreatment and / or neglect in their biological family are often placed in a foster family. After the out of home placement foster children still have an elevated risk to develop emotional and behavior problems. Accordingly, foster parents are often confronted with particularly challenging behaviors of their foster children, leading to more parenting stress and parental dissatisfaction in the short-term, and an increased risk for the foster child to experience further maltreatment and placement disruptions in the long-term. Within the German GROW&TREAT-project, we conducted a randomized controlled intervention study to investigate the efficacy of a parent group training tailored to the special needs of foster families. As primary outcomes, we hypothesized significant short- and long-term improvements regarding foster parents’ parenting competencies and foster children’s relationship behavior in the intervention compared to a usual care control group.
A total of 79 families with 87 foster children aged 2-7 years participated in the trial. At baseline, 32% of the foster children met the ICD-10 criteria for a mental disorder (diagnosed with a standardized clinical interview). For the intervention study, 43 randomly selected families (54%) were offered to participate in the parent training. Primary outcome measures included parent questionnaires on their own parenting competencies and on child relationship behaviors as well as a standardized behavior observation of the parent-child interaction. Intervention and control group families were reassessed three times over a period of one year.
Attending centrally located group trainings was very challenging for foster families as they were spread across the regions of the three project cities. This let to low participation rates. We found no advantages of the intervention group compared to the usual care control group on any outcome measure neither from baseline to post-intervention nor from baseline to the follow-up with the original group assignment. Instead, we found some significant changes in both groups across time.
The non-significant results regarding the efficacy of the intervention and their implications for future research and practice are discussed taking into account the favorable baseline results of the foster parents as well as the limitations of the trial and the intervention itself.
Foster children are considered a high-risk group for the development of child emotional and behavior problems. To better support these children, effective interventions need to be developed and implemented. In this context, a centrally offered group intervention, however, may not be the best approach.