The Modular Approach to Therapy for Children With Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and Conduct Problems

The Modular Approach to Therapy for Children With Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and Conduct Problems

Mental health disorders are disabling for children and adolescents, interfering with key developmental tasks and causing significant emotional distress. In New Zealand, there are a few evidence-based therapies available but they’re often not used clinically due to cost, accessibility or time required for training clinicians. MATCH-ADTC, an innovative modular approach therapy for children with anxiety, depression trauma and conduct problems (MATCH-ADTC), is one such intervention which may help address these problems.

In a randomized clinical trial, clinicians trained in MATCH or usual care were randomly allocated to provide either MATCH or treatment as usual for youths with primary disorders that included anxiety, depression, trauma-related symptoms or disruptive behavior. After three months at each site, both groups underwent an assessment to determine which group had made progress.

This study sought to determine whether training in the MATCH approach was associated with increased use of empirically supported treatments, improved clinical outcomes and greater service efficiency compared to usual care. Clinicians across each treatment group were surveyed about their EST usage and service efficiency, including how much time was spent delivering therapy.

Results: Participants in the MATCH treatment group were more likely to use EST than those in the UC group (85% vs. 63%; F1,190 = 5.5), showed a trajectory of change for their clinical severity measure for comorbidity, and reported improvement on all treatment satisfaction measures than those in UC; however these differences weren’t statistically significant.

EFFICIENCY OF THERAPY: The MATCH group attended significantly more therapy sessions than the UC group (mean, 13.4 vs. 10.7 hrs; F1,190 = 5.6), though there were no significant differences in total face-to-face clinician time or overall duration of therapy.

The MATCH approach utilizes a “guiding algorithm” to give therapists flexibility and individualization to meet each child’s specific needs. This enables MATCH therapists to move ahead in treatment protocol, skip modules or incorporate procedures from multiple programs. Furthermore, it helps the MATCH therapist focus on the primary problem while addressing any comorbidities or therapeutic roadblocks that arise.

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