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The Role of Cognition in School Refusal: An Investigation of Automatic Thoughts and Cognitive Errors

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 June 2011

Marija Maric*
Affiliation:
Leiden University Institute for Psychological Research, the Netherlands
David A. Heyne
Affiliation:
Leiden University Institute for Psychological Research, the Netherlands
Peter de Heus
Affiliation:
Leiden University Institute for Psychological Research, the Netherlands
Brigit M. van Widenfelt
Affiliation:
Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands
P. Michiel Westenberg
Affiliation:
Leiden University Institute for Psychological Research, the Netherlands
*
Reprint requests to Marija Maric, Department of Developmental Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. E-mail: m.maric@uva.nl

Abstract

Aims: The purpose of this study was to investigate the cognitions of anxious school refusers. The cognitive constructs under investigation included negative cognition commonly linked to youth anxiety (i.e. negative automatic thoughts and cognitive errors) and positive automatic thoughts. Method: The cognition of school refusers (n = 50) and youth from a community sample (n = 181) was assessed with the Children's Automatic Thoughts Scale-Negative/Positive and the Children's Negative Cognitive Error Questionnaire-Revised. Results: When controlling for anxiety, school refusers were found to report more negative automatic thoughts concerning personal failure, fewer negative automatic thoughts concerning hostility, and fewer positive automatic thoughts. Negative automatic thoughts concerning personal failure and hostility, and the negative cognitive error of overgeneralizing were found to independently predict school refusal. Conclusions: The findings underscore the importance of further researching the role of cognition in the development, maintenance, and treatment of anxiety-based school refusal.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 2011

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