Anxiety can disrupt a child’s life. When children are anxious it interferes with their daily functioning at home, at school and with peers. It can make kids start avoiding the things that might otherwise make them happy and, if they don’t get treatment, their anxiety can grow with time.
The Child Mind Institute’s Anxiety Disorders Service specializes in diagnosing and treating children and teens struggling with the full range of anxiety disorders. Our goal is to empower both children and their families to understand and overcome struggles with anxiety. Our clinicians are trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is an evidence-based treatment for reducing symptoms of anxiety. It teaches children how to manage their own anxiety, now and in the future, and supports parents in helping their children get better. Parents are an active part of treatment from start to finish.
One of the most important CBT techniques for children with anxiety is called exposure and response prevention. During this treatment your child’s clinician will expose her to something that triggers her anxiety in structured, incremental steps, and in a safe setting. As she becomes accustomed to each of the triggers in turn, her anxiety fades, and she is ready to take on increasingly powerful ones. Exposure and response prevention is well-researched, gentle and effective at treating anxiety disorders.
Another core component of CBT is cognitive therapy, which helps kids learn to recognize when their thinking is irrational and then to create more logical versions of those thoughts. If we can change the way kids think, we can help them change the way they feel.
When medication may be helpful, our team works with board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists at the Child Mind Institute, or partners with your child’s own physician. Our psychiatrists offer expert consultation on whether medication can improve treatment outcome, and provide ongoing medication management when needed.
Disorders we treat include: generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder (with or without agoraphobia), social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, specific phobias and anxiety disorder, not otherwise specified. We also have an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Service and a Selective Mutism Service.
If your child has a co-occurring condition such as depression or a learning disorder, we can work with the psychologists, learning specialists, and neuropsychologists at the Child Mind Institute or your child’s current therapist. We can also partner with your child’s school so that we can educate his teachers and provide strategies for your child if his symptoms are interfering with his ability to learn.