Evaluating the real-world effectiveness of a Cognitive Behavior Therapy-based transdiagnostic programme for emotional problems in children in a regular school setting

Cecilia Essau, Satoko Sasagawa, Georgina Jones, Blossom Fernandes, Thomas H. Ollendick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

402 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The present study examined the real-world effectiveness of a transdiagnostic prevention programme, Super Skills for Life (SSL), among children with emotional problems in regular school settings. SSL is based on the principles of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), behavioural activation, and social skills training.
Methods: Participants were 205 children, aged 8 to 12 years, who were referred by their teachers as having significant emotional problems. All the children completed measures of emotional and behavioural problems and self-esteem, both before and after participating in SSL, and at six months after the intervention. The children’s parents and class teachers also completed a questionnaire that measures children’s general difficulties and positive attributes. Children also gave a 2-minute speech task in front of the video in sessions 1 and 8.
Results: There was agreement among self, parent, and teacher report, showing significant decreases of emotional symptoms from pretest to posttest and pretest to follow-up. Main effect of gender was significant for anxiety symptoms, emotional problems, peer problems, and prosocial behavior. Video analysis of the 2-minute speech task showed significant improvement in length of eye gaze, vocal quality, length of speech, manifestation of comfort, and conversational flow. However, hypothesized increases in self-esteem, did not act as mediator of change in pre- to post-anxiety symptoms or social phobia subscale scores.
Limitations: The present study used an open clinical trial design.
Conclusions: This study provides initial support for the effectiveness of the manual-guided CBT for emotional problems in regular school settings when delivered by school services staff.

© 2019, Elsevier. The attached document (embargoed until 16/04/2020) is an author produced version of a paper published in JOURNAL OF AFFECTIVE DISORDERS uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link below. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-365
Number of pages9
Issue numberJune 2019
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2019


  • : Anxiety symptoms; Depressive symptoms; Transdiagnostic programme; Prevention; Super Skills for Life; Social skill

Cite this