Gaze-contingent Music Reward Therapy for Clinically Anxious 7- to 10-year-olds: an Open Multiple Baseline Feasibility Study


Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology




This multiple-baseline open pilot trial examined feasibility, compliance, acceptability, and preliminary indices of efficacy of Gaze-Contingent Music Reward Therapy (GC-MRT) for anxious 7- to 10-year-old children. GC-MRT is a novel therapy for anxiety disorders that relies on eye-tracking technology and operant conditioning principles to divert attention toward neutral over threat stimuli, with music serving as a reward. Using a multiple-baseline design, 12 children (M (age) = 8.3 years, SD = .72, range = 7-10; 4 girls) with social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or separation anxiety disorder received 8 therapy sessions. Clinical status was determined via semistructured interviews and questionnaires. Patients were randomized to wait 1, 3, or 5 weeks between initial assessment and beginning of therapy. Self-reported anxiety was recorded weekly, and comprehensive clinical assessments were obtained pre- and posttreatment. All 12 patients completed the full course of GC-MRT within the allocated therapy period. Therapy credibility rates were moderate to high as reported by both children and parents. Clinician-rated anxiety levels remained consistent during baseline measurement and decreased significantly following treatment. Parent-reports also yielded significant reductions in child anxiety symptoms from pre- to posttreatment. However, child-reported anxiety did not change significantly. The results provide preliminary evidence for feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of GC-MRT for young children with anxiety disorders. Efficacy should now be tested in randomized controlled trials.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Adolescents; Anxiety; Anxiety Scales; Children; Interviews; Music Therapy; Psychological Outcomes; ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Questionnaires; ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Self-Report Measures

Indexed Terms

Anxiety Disorders; Children; Eye-Tracking Technology; Feasibility Studies; Pilot Projects; Reward

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type