Emotion regulation training as a treatment element for externalizing problems in adolescence: A randomized controlled micro-trial.

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Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Report
Length: 420 words

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Keywords Externalizing behavior; Aggression; Emotion regulation; Cognitive behavior therapy; Intervention elements; Adolescence Highlights * This micro-trial investigates approaches to target adolescents' emotion regulation. * Emotion regulation training positively impacts adaptive regulation strategies. * But by itself, it may not suffice to change externalizing problems. * Examining which elements contribute to effective treatment thus remains important. Abstract Improving interventions for externalizing problems in adolescence may require determining which treatment elements actually produce change. In this micro-trial, we tested a treatment element addressing one widely-hypothesized mechanism underlying externalizing problems: emotion regulation. We tested whether emotion regulation could be improved via training, whether adolescents who received such training would subsequently show reduced externalizing problems, and which training approach and sequence was most effective. We randomized 108 adolescents with elevated externalizing problems (71.3% boys, M.sub.age = 13.66, SD = 1.10) to a control condition or an experimental condition teaching emotion regulation through either a cognitive or behavioral approach, in alternated sequences. Effects of the modules were assessed before and after the modules, and with weekly assessments. The results showed a positive effect of the experimental training on self-reported use of adaptive emotion regulation strategies. However, self-reported externalizing problems decreased more in the control condition than in the experimental condition. No mediation, approach (cognitive versus behavioral) or sequence (cognitive-behavioral versus behavioral-cognitive sequence) effects were found. These findings illustrate that change in a proposed mechanism may not be accompanied by change in targeted problems; this highlights the importance of testing the hypothesized impact of specific treatment elements on targeted mental health problems. Trial registration This trial was registered in the Dutch Trial Register (NTR7334, July 10th, 2018) and the study protocol was published (te Brinke, Schuiringa, Menting, Dekovic, & de Castro, 2018). Author Affiliation: (a) Department of Developmental Psychology, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 1, 3584, CS, Utrecht, the Netherlands (b) Department of Clinical Child and Family Studies, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 1, 3584, CS, Utrecht, the Netherlands (c) Department of Psychology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland Street Cambridge, MA, 02138, United States (d) Department of Developmental Psychology, Utrecht University, 80125, 3508, TC, Utrecht, the Netherlands * Corresponding author. Article History: Received 8 September 2020; Revised 20 April 2021; Accepted 14 May 2021 (footnote)1 Present Address: Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands. (footnote)2 Present Address: Department of Developmental Psychopathology, University of Amsterdam. Byline: Lysanne W. te Brinke [L.W.teBrinke@uu.nl] (a,1,*), Ankie T.A. Menting [A.T.A.Menting@uu.nl] (a), Hilde D. Schuiringa [H.D.Schuiringa@uu.nl] (a), Maja Dekovic [M.Dekovic@uu.nl] (b), John R. Weisz [John_Weisz@harvard.edu] (c), Bram O. de Castro [B.Castro@uu.nl] (d,2)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A665686088