Specific phobias in pre-school children

Specific phobias affect approximately 10% of children, adolescents, and adults.  They are among the earliest disorders to onset, occurring in children as young as 3 years.

Children with specific phobias are excessively afraid of certain situations or objects such as dogs, the dark, costume characters, high places, water, or insects. Children become extremely distressed and will avoid going to certain places or doing things where they may encounter their feared object or situation. Specific phobias cause significant interference in the lives of children and their families.

About the program

A research team at Griffith University is offering free assessment and treatment for children ages 3 to 5 years with a specific phobia. The program, Pre-schoolers Overcoming Phobias (POP!)is part of a nationally funded treatment study of young children with specific phobias. The study is being run by a team of international experts in child anxiety, led by Associate Professor Lara Farrell.

The program aims to learn more about the course of childhood fears in young children, and involves testing a novel, brief intervention for childhood phobias, which has proven effective in older children and with adults.

Research funding

Associate Professor Farrell and her colleagues have been awarded a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to conduct this research. The study has received ethics approval from the Griffith University Human Research Ethics Committee (GU Ref: 2018/145). 2017-2022. Farrell, Ollendick, Donovan, Spence, Waters, Zimmer-Gembeck One-Session Treatment for Specific Phobias in Pre-School Children: Improving access and long-term mental health outcomes. NHMRC. 5 years.

Research team

Meet the remarkable researchers who make up our team

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