Summary: Berliner L and Saunders BE. "Treating fear and anxiety in sexually abused children: Results of a controlled two-year follow-up study," Child Maltreatment vol 1(4): 294-309. 1996.

This study examines whether adding treatment for fear and anxiety to cognitive behavioral group therapy is helpful in treating sexually abused children. Groups of children between the ages of 4 and 13 were randomly assigned to either cognitive behavioral therapy that covered such topics as body awareness, self-esteem, and abuse-related feelings, or therapy that addressed these issues and included components specifically related to fear.

Contrary to their expectations, researchers found that the second type of intervention did not reduce symptoms of fear and anxiety, as assessed by standard measures. The researchers discuss reasons why this may have been so, and offer insights into their findings that some children-in both groups-had symptoms that got worse after treatment. They conclude with recommendations for future research.