Children's nighttime fears are common and cause significant interference to the child's functioning as well as causing much distress for the child and family. Therefore, effective and cost-efficient interventions are urgently needed by mental health professionals and counsellors. The authors review 29 studies, which investigated the efficacy of psychosocial treatment for children's nighttime fears. Most studies employed multiple baseline across subject designs or between group designs and most employed cognitive-behavioral techniques (i.e., desensitisation, emotive imagery, cognitive self-instruction, and reinforcement procedures). Although multi-method, informant assessments were not always conducted, in most studies rapid reduction of nighttime fears was typically achieved after only a few sessions with maintenance of gains. On the basis of our review, we make recommendations about assessment and intervention issues for the effective treatment of children's nighttime fears. Finally, future research directions are discussed including the need for a modern randomised clinical trial to more fully investigate treatment efficacy and the role of non-specific treatment factors.

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Clinical Psychology Review
Department of Psychology

Gordon, J, King, N.J, Gullone, E, Muris, P.E.H.M, & Ollendick, T.H. (2007). Treatment of children's nighttime fears: The need for a modern randomised controlled trial. Clinical Psychology Review, 27(1), 98–113. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2006.07.002