Background: Interventions for adolescents with externalizing behavior problems are generally found to be only moderately effective, and treatment responsiveness is variable. Therefore, this study aims to increase intervention effectiveness by examining effective approaches to train emotion regulation, which is considered to be a crucial mechanism involved in the development of externalizing behavior problems. Specifically, we aim to disentangle a cognitive and behavioral approach to emotion regulation training.
Methods: A randomized controlled parallel-group study with two arms will be used. Participants are adolescents between 12 and 16 years old, with elevated levels of externalizing behavior problems. Participants will be randomly assigned to either the control condition or the intervention condition. Participants in the intervention condition receive both a cognitive and behavioral emotion regulation module, but in different sequences. Primary outcome measures are emotion regulation skills, emotion regulation strategies, and externalizing behavior problems. Questionnaires will be completed at pre-test, in-between modules, and post-test. Moreover, intensive longitudinal data is collected, as adolescents will complete weekly and daily measures.
Discussion: Gaining insight into which approaches to emotion regulation training are more effective, and for whom, is important because it may lead to the adaptation of effective intervention programs for adolescents with externalizing behavior problems. Eventually, this could lead to individually tailored evidence-based interventions.

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BMC Psychology

te Brinke, L.W., Schuiringa, H.D., Menting, A.T.A, Deković, M, & de Castro, B.O. (2018). A cognitive versus behavioral approach to emotion regulation training for externalizing behavior problems in adolescence. BMC Psychology, 6, 1–12. doi:10.1186/s40359-018-0261-0