Anxiety may present itself in many forms and different levels of severity, from a mere twinge of uneasiness to a full-blown panic attack or phobias that persist for months after a stressful event. There are three characteristics which distinguish a phobia from ordinary, everyday fears. First, there is a persistent fear of the object or situation over a long period of time. Second, recognizing that the fear is unreasonable does not help to dispel it. Third, the feared situation (e.g., public speaking) becomes regularly avoided. In children, anxiety often presents as difficulties being apart from parents or loved ones (e.g., unable to sleep in own bed), school refusal behaviours, test taking apprehension, or being overwhelmed with unrealistic worries and concerns. Anxiety Disorders are distinguished from everyday, normal anxiety in that they involve anxiety that:
- Is more intense (e.g., Panic Attacks).
- Lasts longer (anxiety may persist for months instead of going away after a stressful situation has passed).
- Leads to phobias that interfere with life.
Treatment for child and teen Anxiety Disorders stresses effectively dealing with panic, practicing and effectively implementing relaxation techniques, and teaching clients to more logically evaluate risk. We teach our clients the biology of the stress response. Our expertise in this field includes helping individuals to recognize when they are feeling anxious, and then utilizing cognitive restructuring to help recognize and view fears as excessive and unreasonable. We help children and teens experience success at approaching feared situations in safe increments, utilizing incentives. Finally, we assist families and children change their attitudes towards perfectionism, and adopt lifestyle changes to promote a more relaxed, balanced, and healthy approach to life.
Our office is also recognized for the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Successfully dealing with this issue requires a high level understanding of the neurological implications of this condition. The only treatment method recommended when working through this painful condition is referred to as Exposure Plus Response Prevention. An incredibly trusting relationship with your child’s therapist is a must for successful intervention.