Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy

Brief Clinical Reports

Improving Emotion Regulation with CBT in Young Children with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Pilot Study

Angela Scarpaa1 c1 and Nuri M. Reyesa1

a1 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, USA


Background and Aims: This pilot study tested the efficacy of a developmentally modified CBT for young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to teach emotion regulation strategies for reducing anger and anxiety, commonly noted problems in this population. Method: Eleven 5–7 year-old children participated in a CBT-group while parents participated in psychoeducation. Children were randomly assigned to an experimental or delayed-treatment control group. Results: From pre- to post-treatment, all children had less parent reported negativity/lability, better parent reported emotion regulation, and shorter outbursts, and also generated more coping strategies in response to vignettes. Parents also reported increases in their own confidence and their child's ability to deal with anger and anxiety. Conclusions: This study suggests that young children with high functioning ASD may benefit from CBT to improve regulation of anger and anxiety, and parent training may improve parental self-efficacy. Future studies are needed to make conclusions about its efficacy.

(Online publication April 04 2011)


c1 Reprint requests to Angela Scarpa, Virginia Tech – Psychology, 3110 Prices Fork Road, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA. E-mail:


An extended version is also available online in the table of contents for this issue: