Therapy for Children with Anxiety
Newport Beach, California
Newport Beach, California
Anxiety is by far one of the most common mental health issues in the United States (DSM-5). Many children are affected by symptoms of anxiety, particularly those who have experienced moments of intense loss or fear. Parents who have children with anxiety often feel helpless or confused, not knowing what to do to help ease the worry.
The symptoms of childhood (or pediatric) anxiety can look very different from anxiety in adulthood, and so parents often mistake anxious behavior for rebelliousness or ADHD.
Persistent worry or nervousness
Acting out or refusal to engage in certain activities
Crying or persistent sadness
“Clinginess” or fear of leaving parents for an extended period
Agitation or restlessness
Of course, many of these symptoms are also common in children who have depression, trauma, Autism, ADHD, or other mental health concerns. If you have begun to notice anxious behavior in your child, we can help. Early detection and treatment of anxiety can work wonders for kids, particularly those whose anxiety is impacting their ability to function in school. Mental health professionals (like those of us here at The OC Psychology Center!) are trained to help identify, diagnose, and treat anxiety.
Childhood anxiety is very, very common. Many children will experience anxiety for normal everyday activities, such as going to the dentist for the first time or learning to make new friends. However, some children will begin to develop persistent, long-lasting anxious symptoms that begin to take hold of the child’s functioning.
We use this process to help parents and children understand the way anxiety works. First, the child will experience anxiety regarding a certain activity or object (anxiety trigger). The anxious experience is learned and stored in memory as an emotional association with the trigger, which then motivates the client to avoid that trigger in the future. By avoiding the trigger, the child’s emotional association goes unchallenged and is reinforced over time.
For example, a child may experience fear of going to school after something embarrassing happens in class. The idea of going to school (trigger) becomes emotionally associated with the fear and embarrassment experienced, thus motivating the child to avoid going to school. The child may then tell their parents they feel sick, thereby allowing the avoidance of school to happen. We tend to feel great when we can avoid an anxiety-inducing event, just think of the last time a police officer let you off on a warning for speeding. That release of anxiety reinforces the behavior of avoidance, which is why the child continues to tell their parents they feel sick.
Clinical psychologists are trained and licensed to accurately treat and assess anxiety to rule out the presence of other mental health issues. Our team of mental health professionals is determined to help you and your child find answers. If your child struggles with nervousness or avoidance, let us help. Contact OC Psychology Center for Assessment and Therapy today to schedule your first appointment. Our mission is to help children and their families find answers and solutions through assessment (testing and diagnosis) and psychotherapy (treatment) services. To read more about our assessment services, check out our other pages on psychological testing and diagnosis. To learn more about what treatment for anxiety looks like here in our clinic, read on!
Here at the OC Psychology Center, we prioritize your child’s wellbeing and health. The first step in treating any of our pediatric clients involves an evidence-based process for diagnosing their condition. An accurate diagnosis can make a substantial difference in your child’s care, including accelerated treatment and recovery.
The first line of treatment for childhood anxiety is psychotherapy (Barret et al, 2001). To read more about what psychotherapy looks like with children, check out our page on Therapy for Children! Children with anxiety especially benefit from our therapy services, as the cycle of avoidance and worry is best addressed early in life.
Manage feelings of worry and fear
Engage more fully with school and family
Think more clearly
Feel safe and secure
Quiet their thoughts and be mindful
Experience increased wellbeing and happiness
Barrett, P. M., Duffy, A. L., Dadds, M. R., & Rapee, R. M. (2001). Cognitive–behavioral treatment of anxiety disorders in children: Long-term (6-year) follow-up. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 69(1), 135.
We teach children, and parents, cognitive-behavioral strategies for beating anxiety and worry. Families learn how to challenge anxious thinking, practice relaxation strategies and break the cycle of avoidance and worry.
Want to learn more about our team of child, adolescent and young adult mental health specialists? Select a provider below to learn more about the credentials and specialties of each provider.
Learn more about child therapy, teen therapy and young adult therapy for treatment of ADHD, depression, anxiety and learning problems, and how our counseling services and psychological testing can help.