The number of children and teens diagnosed with anxiety has risen steadily since 2006. Yet, a study released in a journal from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that more children and teens are receiving medication for anxiety without receiving therapy.
The study, which examined records from 2006 to 2018, found that visits to many types of medical facilities tripled over that time frame. At the same time, the study found that the number of teens and children referred for therapy decreased by almost 50% over the study’s time frame. If you are a parent of an anxious offspring, there are many benefits of treatment for anxiety.
Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy for Children with Anxiety
Exposure and response prevention therapy is very effective in helping children overcome anxiety. In a controlled situation, the child is exposed to things making them feel anxious. Being exposed to these items allows the child to overcome their anxiety. Studies show that exposure and response prevention is especially useful in treating separation anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety.
The Exposure and Response Therapy Process
The exposure and response therapy process is very different than traditional talk therapy. First, the therapist helps the child, and his caregivers, create a hierarchy of fear levels. The child rates a series of ideas related to their fear. For example, afraid of spiders may be asked to rank seeing a photo of a spider in a book, watching a video of a spider, viewing a spider at a zoo and touching a spider.
Then, the therapist introduces the child to the mildest form of his fear and helps the child overcome his anxiety at that level. Next, the therapist moves up the hierarchy until the child is comfortable touching a safe spider. As the child masters their fear, they learn to conquer their anxiety. Finally, the therapist helps the child understand how the process can be applied to multiple worries.
If your child suffers from anxiety, contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss appropriate therapy.