Jayne Demsky

New Way to Combat Childhood Anxiety: Treat the Parents

This article from Yale News features promising research about how parent training can help improve anxiety levels, tolerance and outcomes in their children. According to Dr. Eli Lebowitz, Director of the Program for Anxiety Disorders at the Yale Child Study Center and Assistant Professor at the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine, “There are currently two evidence-based treatments for anxiety — medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, yet only half the children respond to these therapies, so there is a great need for alternate treatments.” The new program called SPACE developed at Yale helps parents handle issues arising from living with an anxious child.”

Read the rest of this story written by Bill Hathaway

Yale researchers have developed an innovative way to address an epidemic of anxiety disorders afflicting the nation’s children: treat the parents.

A new program developed at Yale that counsels parents is as effective in treating common anxiety disorders as cognitive behavioral therapy for the child, according to a randomized trial of the two therapies published in the Journal of the American Academy of Childhood and Adolescent Psychiatry.

One in three children will experience clinically a significant anxiety disorder before adulthood. Unless treated, many will become anxious adults.

Parents of anxious children almost always try to accommodate their child, Lebowitz said. For instance, if the child suffers from social anxiety, no friends are invited to the house; in the case of separation anxiety, parents sleep with the child or never leave the home. Parents constantly reassure a child with generalized anxiety. While the responses of parents are natural, studies have shown they also leave children suffering from debilitating anxiety into adulthood, Lebowitz said.

Researchers randomly assigned 124 children ages 7 to 14 with diagnosed anxiety disorders to either receive cognitive behavioral therapy or their parents were enrolled in 12 weekly counseling sessions to help them better cope with the anxious child. For instance, a parent assigned to SPACE gradually reduced the dozens of text messages a day they sent their child to two or three. Parents who repeatedly kept their child out of school because of anxiety-related stomach aches learned to say, “I know you are feeling upset right now, but I know you will be okay” and sent their child to school.

Both approaches were equally efficacious in reducing anxiety symptoms in children and stress levels of parents, researchers found. “Accommodating’’ behavior by parents was substantially reduced among those who received SPACE counseling.

Lebowitz said he hopes to train therapists to offer the program now that its efficacy has been established. But what parents shouldn’t do is ignore the problem, he cautions.

“Severe anxiety is a serious condition which damages children, disrupts family life, and in some cases leads to suicide,” he said.

Jayne Demsky
Author: Jayne Demsky

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn

Share:

You may also like

Get Help Today with
Exclusive Access to Leading
School Avoidance Experts

Unfortunately only a small percentage of school professionals, therapists, educational advocates and policy makers understand school avoidance best practices. So, you must become the expert to ensure your child is getting:

  • Appropriate mental health treatment
  • School assistance without punitive responses (truancy, failing, grade retention)
  • Educated regardless of their school avoidance
  • A 504 plan or IEP if needed (many school avoidant kids qualify)

The time passing slowly without progress is the worst feeling. It wouldn’t have taken five years of suffering and uncertainty if I had this expert guidance during my son’s school avoidance. We would have saved $29,000 in lawyer fees and $69,000 for private schools.

Providing Information School Avoidance Families Need To Know

This Guide explains; 504 Plans, IEPs, Attendance Policies & More

We Use Cookies

We use cookies to make your experience on this website better.