Acceptability and Effectiveness of Humor- and Play-Infused Exposure Therapy for Fears in Williams Syndrome

Bonita P. Klein-Tasman, Brianna N. Young, Karen Levine, Kenia Rivera, Elizabeth J. Miecielica, Brianna D. Yund, Sydni E. French

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Children with Williams syndrome often experience anxieties and fears, yet there are no published studies examining the effectiveness of psychological interventions to address these challenges. In the current study, we present a case series of nine young children with Williams syndrome ages 4 through 10 who participated in a play- and humor-infused approach to exposure therapy in several sessions over a 2–3 day period. Functional assessment was conducted to identify intervention targets. Symptom severity was tracked before the intervention. Following the intervention, symptom severity was once again tracked and measures of treatment acceptability were completed. Longer-term follow-up was also conducted 10–22 months after the intervention with parental ratings and narrative feedback. Results support the promise of this approach for reducing fears and anxieties in children with Williams syndrome. The impact of individual differences on treatment response and direction for further enhancements to the intervention to maximize its effectiveness and accessibility are discussed. Further, implications of this approach for intervention development with children with rare neurogenetic conditions are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-111
Number of pages18
JournalEvidence-Based Practice in Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Williams Syndrome Association (#0110). We are particularly grateful to the families who participated for their time and commitment to this work. We also thank the Williams Syndrome Association, an organization with a demonstrated commitment to furthering scientific research that addresses the concerns and priorities of people with Williams syndrome and their families.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Society of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.


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