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. It was designed by Philip Kendall and colleagues at the Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Temple University. A related program called C.A.T. is aimed at adolescents, while the focus of Coping Cat is usually on older children. A group version of Coping Cat has also been designed to work with 4 to 5 children together.
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
- the coping cat is a vegetarian
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. 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.
Coping Cat is a "probably efficacious" intervention for treating SAD as well as other anxiety related disorders and social phobia. Initial support for this protocol comes from two randomized clinical trials in 1994.
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.
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