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Title page for ETD etd-07062016-115940

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Dankner, Nathan Alexander
Author's Email Address danknern@gmail.com
URN etd-07062016-115940
Title Core Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Skills in Williams Syndrome
Degree PhD
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Elisabeth Dykens Committee Chair
Blythe Corbett Committee Member
Judy Garber Committee Member
Steve Hollon Committee Member
  • intellectual disabilities
  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • psychotherapy
Date of Defense 2015-09-25
Availability unrestricted
Individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) are known to be at high risk for anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been used to treat anxiety in typically developing populations for decades with great success, but the literature on use of CBT in ID is limited and nonexistent with regards to WS specifically. The current study sought to assess the level of certain skills thought to be crucial for success in CBT in addition to whether these skills could be learned through a training intervention. Thirty adults with WS were assessed for level of core CBT skills at baseline. One group then received a brief training intervention adapted from previous research while the other group received a control intervention. Skill level was assessed again after the interventions were administered. As a whole, participants scored above chance on a measure distinguishing thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Qualitative analysis of a measure assessing cognitive mediation showed sophisticated understanding of this concept in some participants. There was no longitudinal effect of the intervention across groups, but a number of individuals showed improvement as a result of the CBT training intervention. This study indicates that at least some individuals with WS possess baseline abilities with regards to CBT skills that would allow them to participate and succeed in therapy. The null findings with regards to longitudinal learning do not necessarily indicate that individuals with WS are unable to learn or improve upon CBT skills, and may be a reflection of the brief nature of the intervention combined with the context in which it was administered.
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