Separation Anxiety Disorder Treatment

image-prThe summer is waning – it’s almost time for autumn to roll around again, which means school will be starting soon. While most children look forward to this time so they can see their friends and enjoy various school activities, this can be a period of major anxiety for some school-aged children. These kids are extremely unwilling to leave home or be away from major attachment figures such as parents, grandparents, or older siblings. The beginning of the new school year is often seen as a threat to them, resulting in elevated anxiety levels and possible school-related disorders, such as separation anxiety disorder and school refusal.

In some cases the separation anxiety and school refusal follow an infection or illness or can come after an emotional trauma such as a move to another neighborhood or the death of a loved one. The anxiety generally occurs after the child has spent an extended time with their parent or loved one, perhaps over summer break or a long vacation.

Anxiety Definition

A teen or child is said to be suffering from a separation anxiety disorder if they show excessive anxiety related to the separation from a parent or caregiver or from their home, or if they exhibit an inappropriate anxiety about this separation as related to their age or stage of development. School refusal and separation anxiety are not the same: school refusal is not an “actual” diagnosis, instead it is a result of the child or teen having a separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, or social phobia, among other diagnoses.

Separation Anxiety Physical Symptoms

Children with separation anxiety have symptoms which can include:

  • Excessive worry about potential harm befalling oneself or one’s caregiver
  • Demonstrating clingy behavior
  • Avoiding activities that may result in separation from parents
  • Fearing to be alone in a room or needing to see a parent at all times
  • Difficulty going to sleep, fear of the dark, and/or nightmares
  • Trembling
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches and/or nausea
  • Vomiting

A child who exhibits three or more of these symptoms for more than four weeks is likely to be suffering from a separation anxiety disorder.

Treatment for School Refusal and Separation Anxiety

When treating a child with separation anxiety and school refusal, therapists try to help the child learn to identify and change their anxious thoughts. They teach coping mechanisms that will help the child respond less fearfully to the situations that produce their anxiety. This can be done through role-playing or by modeling the appropriate behavior for the child to see. Medication is sometimes appropriate in severe cases of separation anxiety. Additionally, the therapist encourages child to use positive self-talk and parents help with this therapy by actively reinforcing positive behaviors and rewarding their child’s successes.

What We Treat

The Center for Treatment and of Anxiety and Mood Disorders specializes in treating a wide variety of disorders including:

Types of Therapy

The Center offers cutting edge therapy designed to get you on the road to a speedy recovery. We will help you to learn how to live your daily life free from the fears or compulsions that inhibit you or your child’s ability to complete each day’s tasks.

Mindfulness Training

Mindfulness Training

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Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

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Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Psychodynamic
Psychotherapy

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Medications

Medications

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Group Therapy

Group Therapy

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Intensive Weekend Programming

Intensive Weekend Programming

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In-Vivo Exposure Therapy

In-Vivo Exposure Therapy

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More Ways to Get Help Now

We offer cognitive behavior therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, mindfulness meditation, group therapy. and medication. Depending on your needs, here’s how you can get help now:

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Online or Phone
Therapy

For individuals around the country or those wanting help from the comfort of your own home, we offer therapy via Facetime, Skype or phone.

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In Person
Treatment

We have professionals available 7 days a week. Our offices are conveniently located in the Boca/Delray area.

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Intensive Weekend
Programs

For those who prefer a more short-term approach we offer weekend sessions for individuals or groups. Perfect for those with a less flexible work schedule.

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