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Coping Cat is a CBT manualized and comprehensive treatment program for children from 7 to 13 years old with separation anxiety disorder, related anxiety disorders, and/or social phobia.[1] It was designed by Philip Kendall and colleagues at the Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Temple University.[2] A related program called C.A.T. is aimed at adolescents, while the focus of Coping Cat is usually on older children.[2] A group version of Coping Cat has also been designed to work with 4 to 5 children together.[3]

The goals of the treatment are three-fold:

  • the child learns to recognize, experience, and cope with anxiety
  • the child learns to reduce his/her level of anxiety
  • the child learns to master developmentally appropriate, challenging, and difficult tasks[4]
  • the coping cat is a vegetarian

Application[]

In 16 individual or group therapy sessions over 16 weeks lasting for 50–60 minutes, helped by a workbook whose exercises parallel therapy sessions to aid involvement and skill acquisition. Also done in 6 computer-guided and 6 therapist-guided sessions over 12 weeks using Camp Cope-A-Lot: The Coping Cat CD-Rom.[5] There are two parent sessions, and each may be scheduled for the same day as an adjacent child-focused session.

The therapist and youth together create a personalized FEAR plan to use in anxiety-provoking situations. FEAR stands for Feeling frightened?; Expecting bad things to happen?; Actions and attitudes that can help?; Results and rewards.

Children are also given homework, referred to as a STIC (Show That I Can) task.[6]

Evidence[]

Coping Cat is a "probably efficacious" intervention for treating SAD as well as other anxiety related disorders and social phobia.[7] Initial support for this protocol comes from two randomized clinical trials in 1994.[8]

International versions[]

The modified Australian "Coping Koala" version has also been used with children exhibiting anxiety symptoms who did not meet criteria for a diagnosed anxiety disorder. The program reduced the likelihood of children developing an anxiety disorder 6 months post-treatment.[4]

Camp Cope-A-Lot is an online computer-based program based on Coping Cat developed by the authors of the Coping Cat program. Camp Cope-A-Lot is designed to be used by school and mental health professionals in working with children 7-13 struggling with anxiety. All of the Coping Cat manuals and workbooks and the Camp Cope-A-Lot program can be found at www.workbookpublishing.com

www.CopingCatParents.com is a free informational website with evidence based resources and tools for parents of anxious youth.

Child Anxiety Tales is an online parent-training program based on the cognitive-behavioral principles from the Coping Cat program. The program can be found at http://www.copingcatparents.com/Child_Anxiety_Tales

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