skip to main content
Washington State Institute for Public Policy
Back Button

Individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for children with anxiety

Children's Mental Health: Anxiety
Benefit-cost methods last updated December 2017.  Literature review updated April 2012.
Open PDF
Treatments usually include multiple components, such as strategies to control physiological responses to anxiety, cognitive restructuring and self-talk, exposure to feared stimuli, and positive reinforcement. This brief therapy can be administered in individual, group, or family format; well-known examples include the Coping Cat and Coping Koala programs. The results below are those from individual formats.
The estimates shown are present value, life cycle benefits and costs. All dollars are expressed in the base year chosen for this analysis (2016). The chance the benefits exceed the costs are derived from a Monte Carlo risk analysis. The details on this, as well as the economic discount rates and other relevant parameters are described in our Technical Documentation.
Benefit-Cost Summary Statistics Per Participant
Benefits to:
Taxpayers $1,487 Benefits minus costs $3,554
Participants $2,960 Benefit to cost ratio $5.55
Others $200 Chance the program will produce
Indirect ($311) benefits greater than the costs 98 %
Total benefits $4,335
Net program cost ($782)
Benefits minus cost $3,554
1In addition to the outcomes measured in the meta-analysis table, WSIPP measures benefits and costs estimated from other outcomes associated with those reported in the evaluation literature. For example, empirical research demonstrates that high school graduation leads to reduced crime. These associated measures provide a more complete picture of the detailed costs and benefits of the program.

2“Others” includes benefits to people other than taxpayers and participants. Depending on the program, it could include reductions in crime victimization, the economic benefits from a more educated workforce, and the benefits from employer-paid health insurance.

3“Indirect benefits” includes estimates of the net changes in the value of a statistical life and net changes in the deadweight costs of taxation.
Detailed Monetary Benefit Estimates Per Participant
Benefits from changes to:1 Benefits to:
Taxpayers Participants Others2 Indirect3 Total
K-12 grade repetition $6 $0 $0 $3 $9
Labor market earnings associated with anxiety disorder $1,327 $2,922 $0 $0 $4,249
Health care associated with anxiety disorder $165 $54 $205 $83 $507
Costs of higher education ($11) ($16) ($5) ($6) ($38)
Adjustment for deadweight cost of program $0 $0 $0 ($391) ($391)
Totals $1,487 $2,960 $200 ($311) $4,335
Detailed Annual Cost Estimates Per Participant
Annual cost Year dollars Summary
Program costs $1,661 2010 Present value of net program costs (in 2016 dollars) ($782)
Comparison costs $943 2010 Cost range (+ or -) 10 %
Per-participant costs are based on a weighted average of 14.22 hours of therapist time, as reported in the treatment studies, multiplied by the hourly therapist cost is based on the 2014 actuarial estimates of reimbursement for individual therapy (Mercer. (2013). Behavioral Health Data Book for the State of Washington for Rates Effective January 1, 2014). Comparison costs are based on the average reimbursement for treatment of child anxiety.
The figures shown are estimates of the costs to implement programs in Washington. The comparison group costs reflect either no treatment or treatment as usual, depending on how effect sizes were calculated in the meta-analysis. The cost range reported above reflects potential variation or uncertainty in the cost estimate; more detail can be found in our Technical Documentation.
Estimated Cumulative Net Benefits Over Time (Non-Discounted Dollars)
The graph above illustrates the estimated cumulative net benefits per-participant for the first fifty years beyond the initial investment in the program. We present these cash flows in non-discounted dollars to simplify the “break-even” point from a budgeting perspective. If the dollars are negative (bars below $0 line), the cumulative benefits do not outweigh the cost of the program up to that point in time. The program breaks even when the dollars reach $0. At this point, the total benefits to participants, taxpayers, and others, are equal to the cost of the program. If the dollars are above $0, the benefits of the program exceed the initial investment.

^WSIPP’s benefit-cost model does not monetize this outcome.

^^WSIPP does not include this outcome when conducting benefit-cost analysis for this program.

Meta-analysis is a statistical method to combine the results from separate studies on a program, policy, or topic in order to estimate its effect on an outcome. WSIPP systematically evaluates all credible evaluations we can locate on each topic. The outcomes measured are the types of program impacts that were measured in the research literature (for example, crime or educational attainment). Treatment N represents the total number of individuals or units in the treatment group across the included studies.

An effect size (ES) is a standard metric that summarizes the degree to which a program or policy affects a measured outcome. If the effect size is positive, the outcome increases. If the effect size is negative, the outcome decreases.

Adjusted effect sizes are used to calculate the benefits from our benefit cost model. WSIPP may adjust effect sizes based on methodological characteristics of the study. For example, we may adjust effect sizes when a study has a weak research design or when the program developer is involved in the research. The magnitude of these adjustments varies depending on the topic area.

WSIPP may also adjust the second ES measurement. Research shows the magnitude of some effect sizes decrease over time. For those effect sizes, we estimate outcome-based adjustments which we apply between the first time ES is estimated and the second time ES is estimated. We also report the unadjusted effect size to show the effect sizes before any adjustments have been made. More details about these adjustments can be found in our Technical Documentation.

Meta-Analysis of Program Effects
Outcomes measured Treatment Age No. of effect sizes Treatment N Adjusted effect sizes (ES) and standard errors (SE) used in the benefit-cost analysis Unadjusted effect size (random effects model)
First time ES is estimated Second time ES is estimated
ES SE Age ES SE Age ES p-value
Anxiety disorder 11 9 523 -0.347 0.081 11 -0.161 0.052 12 -0.735 0.001
Global functioning^ 11 2 279 0.092 0.139 11 0.043 0.066 12 0.092 0.506
Major depressive disorder^^ 11 1 41 -0.202 0.227 11 0.000 0.025 12 -0.482 0.036
Suicidal ideation^ 11 2 279 0.285 0.124 11 0.132 0.065 12 0.285 0.021

Citations Used in the Meta-Analysis

Barrett, P.M., Dadds, M.R., & Rapee, R.M. (1996). Family treatment of childhood anxiety: A controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64(2), 333-342.

Flannery-Schroeder, E.D., & Kendall, P.C. (2000). Group and individual cognitive-behavioral treatments for youth with anxiety disorders: A randomized clinical trial. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 24(3), 251-278.

Kendall, P.C., Flannery-Schroeder, E., Panichelli-Mindel, S.M., Southam-Gerow, H., Henin, A., & Warman, M. (1997). Therapy for youths with anxiety disorders: A second randomized clinical trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65(3), 366-380.

Kendall, P.C., Hudson, J.L., Gosch, E., Flannery-Schroeder, E., & Suveg, C. (2008). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disordered youth: A randomized clinical trial evaluating child and family modalities. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(2), 282- 297.

Kendall, P.C. (1994). Treating anxiety disorders in children: Results of a randomized clinical trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62(1), 100-110.

Manassis, K., Mendlowitz, S.L., Scapillato, D., Avery, D., Fiksenbaum, L., Freire, M., . . . Owens, M. (2002) Group and individual cognitive-behavioral therapy for childhood anxiety disorders: A randomized trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 41(12), 1423-1430.

Nauta, M.H., Scholing, A., Emmelkamp, P.M.G., & Minderaa, R.B. (2003). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for children with anxiety disorders in a clinical setting: No additional effect of a cognitive parent training. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 42(11), 1270-1278.

Southam-Gerow, M.A., McLeod, B.D., Weisz, J.R., Chu, B.C., Gordis, E.B., & Connor-Smith, J.K. (2010). Does cognitive behavioral therapy for youth anxiety outperform usual care in community clinics? An initial effectiveness test. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(10), 1043-1052.

Walkup, J. T., Albano, A. M., Piacentini, J., Birmaher, B., Compton, S. N., Sherrill, J. T., . . . Kendall, P. C. (2008). Cognitive behavioral therapy, sertraline, or a combination in childhood anxiety. The New England Journal of Medicine, 359(26), 2753-2766.