Established in 2013, the McLean Anxiety Mastery Program (MAMP) is one of only a handful of programs in the country to provide intensive and evidence-based treatment for anxious youth. The program offers treatment for children and adolescents, ages 9 to 18, who struggle with social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobia(s) and obsessive compulsive disorder. During intensive treatment, children and adolescents participate in group-based cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) with an emphasis on exposure and response prevention. Also central to the treatment are family work, parent guidance groups, medication management, and collaboration with schools and outpatient providers.
The brainchild of Jacqueline Sperling, PhD, Kathryn Dingman Boger, PhD, and Mona Potter, MD, the program was developed to address the gap in available community treatment that would allow students to attend school and participate in intensive therapy.
“We developed the Anxiety Mastery Program because we recognized that many children need more than once-a-week treatment that specifically addresses their anxiety, in addition to having opportunities to practice skills at home and at school on a regular basis,” said Sperling.
Participating children and adolescents attend the program every weekday afternoon after school for at least a month. “The idea behind providing intensive treatment over a shorter duration is to promote rapid progress. We want to get students back on track and re-engaging with the various aspects of their lives more quickly,” explained Boger, who serves as the program director.
In addition to focusing on clinical care, Sperling, Boger, and Potter are deeply committed to advancing education and research through MAMP. The trio has developed and implemented an intensive CBT training course and established a weekly brown bag seminar for trainees and clinicians looking to learn more about CBT and anxiety disorders.
Additionally, in collaboration with Courtney Beard Elias, PhD, a research psychologist at McLean Hospital, the MAMP team is in the process of launching a research project that will examine the effectiveness of various components of treatment. The program’s research goals are to inform and improve the quality of care within the program and to disseminate the findings.
“Our hope is that by aligning with McLean’s mission of emphasizing clinical work, training and research, we will be able to provide the best care possible for anxious children and adolescents,” said Potter.