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Brief Cognitive Therapy for adolescent Panic Disorder

Polly Waite

23 Jan 2024


Panic disorder occurs in 1-3% of UK adolescents, has high rates of comorbidity, and a negative impact on functioning at school and with friends. Left untreated, it appears to have a chronic course. Currently the most common psychological treatment approach for adolescents with panic disorder is a generic form of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), developed for a range of anxiety disorders. However, many treatment trials of this general approach have excluded young people with panic disorder, and existing treatments specifically for adolescents with panic disorder require a considerable amount of therapist time (between 11 and 22 hours of therapy). As such, there is a clear need to develop effective, scalable treatments. In adults, individual cognitive therapy based on Clark’s (1986) cognitive model for panic disorder has been shown to be highly effective, including in a brief format. We have recently evaluated the brief version of this treatment, adapted for use with adolescents, within the PANDA feasibility randomised controlled trial ( Cognitive therapy was delivered 1:1 (face to face and remotely) by children’s wellbeing practitioners within an NHS-commissioned clinic. It involved 5 treatment sessions and 2 booster sessions. Prior to each of the first 4 sessions, the young person was given a self-study workbook to read, which also included written exercises and homework activities. This approach will be presented within this workshop.

The event will be equivalent to 2.3/4hrs of CPD.


This half-day workshop will:
• Provide a theoretical basis for brief cognitive therapy for adolescents with panic disorder
• Consider how to assess panic disorder in adolescents, including differential diagnosis with common co-morbidities, and use sessional measures to guide treatment
• Provide an overview of the key elements of cognitive therapy for panic disorder, including:
- How to put together an individualised model of panic disorder for a young person
- A consideration of the role of education about the nature of anxiety and the meaning of different body sensations
- How to undertake behavioural experiments to test out young peoples’ beliefs in action
- How to involve family members and school staff in treatment

Learning Objectives

By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:
• Assess panic disorder in adolescents and use sessional measures to guide treatment
• Understand the key elements of cognitive therapy for panic disorder
• Put together an individualised model of panic disorder for a young person
• Undertake behavioural experiments to test out young peoples’ beliefs in action

Training Modalities

Teaching methods will involve lecturing, demonstration, and practical activities, interaction via the chat, and Q&A.

Key References

Clark, D. M., & Salkovskis, P. M. (2009). Panic Disorder. Retrieved from

Clark, D. M., Salkovskis, P. M., Hackmann, A., Wells, A., Ludgate, J., & Gelder, M. G. (1999). Brief cognitive therapy for panic disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67(4), 583.

Waite, P. (2021). Protocol For a Randomised Controlled Feasibility Study Examining the Efficacy of Brief Cognitive Therapy For the Treatment of Panic Disorder in Adolescents (PANDA). Research Square, Preprint.

About the presenter

Dr Polly Waite is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford. She is also an Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. Her primary clinical and research interest is the treatment of anxiety disorders in adolescents. She has recently led the NIHR-funded PANDA feasibility randomised controlled trial, evaluating the efficacy of an adapted form of David Clark’s brief cognitive therapy for panic disorder in adolescents. She has authored over 60 papers, as well as books and book chapters on anxiety and related difficulties for professionals, young people and their families. She co-edits the Little, Brown Book Group ‘Helping Your Child’ for parents and carers and ‘Dealing with’ books series for adolescents with common mental health problems.

Who should attend

This workshop is aimed at clinicians with prior experience using CBT for the treatment of anxiety disorders (in young people or adults).

Low Intensity clinical contact hours survey - BABCP Low Intensity Special Interest Group

Please click below if you are interested in contributing to the survey.


The BACP Low Intensity SIG are interested in the impact of clinical contact hours on Low Intensity/Wellbeing Practitioner wellbeing. This questionnaire contains six multi-choice questions and a free text box for you to share your experiences. The answers to these questions will help the BABCP SIG plan how to meet CPD topics and other developments within the SIG.  The SIG hope to produce a write up of the answers to this questionnaire to be shared with SIG members and to be used in training.

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This FREE conference is for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners working in Talking Therapies for Anxiety and Depression services and is brought to you by Bespoke Mental Health in collaboration with the NHS England Talking Therapies National PWP Leads Network

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