Effective exposure therapy for children and adolescents: do’s and don’ts

Prof. Michael Southam-Gerow, psychologist

Excerpt: how exposure works

October discount

Get the presentation sheet

  • 6h of continuing education
  • 19 lessons that last from 5 to 15 minutes each
  • 1 certificate of achievement
  • 1 power-point
  • 1 bibliography
  • 1 course evaluation
  • 4 months unlimited access
  • 7-day money back guarantee


Anxiety, in moderate doses, can have many benefits. It can motivate us to put in maximum effort and help us know what matters to us most. When anxiety persists however, it can interfere with functioning and lead to diagnosable mental health problems in children and adolescents. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common issues found in pediatric clinics today. In addition to long-term anxiety related disorders, untreated anxiety can lead to other problems such as depression and substance abuse. Fortunately, there are good treatments available. Supported by more than 75 studies, CBT is considered the go-to talk therapy for child and adolescent anxiety.

Exposure is a key ingredient of CBT. The principle is simple, have the child or adolescent engage with situations or objects that they fear many times to reduce the fear. The simplicity of the idea is deceptive. The intervention is complex and requires training to learn how to do it well. In this workshop, Dr. Michael Southam-Gerow provides an engaging and practical look at how to do exposure therapy for anxious children and adolescent. Using clinical examples, an interactive format, and ample opportunities for practice during the workshop, participants will learn well-validated strategies to do exposure well. The workshop will include a focus on:

  1. how a strong initial assessment leads to fear ladders that promote treatment success;
  2. foundational psychoeducational principles needed for exposure;
  3. the basic exposure approach;
  4. variations across diagnostic categories.

About the expert

Picture of Michael Southam-Gerow

Prof. Southam Gerow is originally from Detroit, Michigan. He received his BA degree from the University of Michigan in 1989, completing his honors thesis with Vonnie McLoyd. After three years living in Seattle, he moved to Philadelphia and earned his PhD from Temple University in 1997 working with Phil Kendall. He completed his internship at the UCSD/VAMC consortium in San Diego, CA. After a post-doc working with John Weisz at UCLA, he joined VCU as a professor in 2001. His research focuses on dissemination and implementation of treatments for kids and families, measurement of treatment integrity, and emotion regulation in children and adolescents.

Learning objectives

  1. Increase competence in producing fear ladders that include practical items for use in exposure therapy;

  2. Demonstrate understanding of the psychoeducational teaching points critical to exposure therapy;

  3. Demonstrate competence in the basic sequence used in exposure therapy;

  4. Master multiple techniques used in exposure therapy for children and adolescents to increase confidence across a range of child and adolescent clients with anxiety disorders

Learning material

The training includes theoretical content as well as clinical examples. This course includes videos that each last 5 to 15 minutes. A power-point is available for download.


  • Powerpoint
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Exposure Background
  • 3. Questions on Exposure Rationale
  • Exposure Overview

  • 4. Building a fear ladder
  • 5. Group exercise
  • 6. For child and caregiver
  • 7. Exposure Basics
  • 8. How Exposure Works
  • 9. Two types of Habituation
  • Troubleshooting: common challenges

  • 10. Scenario: Unresponsive patients
  • 11. Scenario: Asking questions
  • 12. Scenario: Introducing themselves
  • Common variations

  • 13. Trauma (Part 1)
  • 14. Trauma (Part 2)
  • 15. Panic Disorder
  • 16. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Working with the Caregiver

  • 17. Caregiver involvement
  • 18. Supporting Exposure at Home
  • 19. Special Cases
  • Bibliographie

100% online course

All the material is available anytime anywhere.

Certified course

Completion of the course evaluation allows you to download a certificate of achievement.


This training is intended for all mental health professionnals.


October discount

  • 6h of continuing education
  • 19 lessons that last from 5 to 15 minutes each
  • 1 certificate of achievement
  • 1 power-point
  • 1 bibliography
  • 1 course evaluation
  • 4 months unlimited access
  • 7-day money back guarantee

Legal notes

ASADIS is approved by the Canadian Psychological Association to offer continuing education for psychologists. ASADIS maintains responsibility for the program.

The CPA’s approval of an individual, group, or organization as a CE Sponsor or Provider is restricted to the activities described in the approved application or annual report form. The CPA’s approval does not extend to any other CE activity the Sponsor or Provider might offer. In granting its approval, the CPA assumes no legal or financial obligations to Sponsors, Providers, or to those individuals who might participate in a Sponsor or Provider’s CE activities or programs. Further, responsibility for the content, provision, and delivery of any CE activity approved by the CPA remains that of the CE Sponsor or Provider. The CPA disclaims all legal liability associated with the content, provision, and delivery of the approved CE activity.

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