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Phone: 858-354-4077

Email: info@csamsandiego.com

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7860 Mission Center Ct, Suite 209
San Diego, CA, 92108

858.354.4077

At The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management, our psychologists have years of experience. Unlike many other providers, our clinicians truly specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety and related problems. Our mission is to apply only the most effective short-term psychological treatments supported by extensive scientific research. We are located in Rancho Bernardo, Carlsbad, and Mission Valley.

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Read our award-winning blogs for useful information and tips about anxiety, stress, and related disorders.

 

Filtering by Tag: child anxiety specialist

How Do I Know If I Need Therapy?

Jill Stoddard

By Annabelle Parr

Each May we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month to draw attention to and reduce stigma around mental health issues. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, 1 in 5 people will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime. And as we discussed last May during #CureStigma, “while 1 in 5 Americans are affected by a mental health condition, 5 in 5 Americans know what it is to feel pain. The frequency, intensity, and duration can vary, but pain itself is a function of being human. When culture stigmatizes the 1 in 5 and simultaneously dichotomizes illness and wellness, the resulting message is that it is shameful to struggle and to feel pain. In essence, stigma says that it is shameful to admit our own humanity.”

Do I need therapy?

Given that all of us will at some point encounter painful experiences and emotions, this year we are discussing how to know when it might be helpful to seek therapy. Though it may be clear that those affected by a previously diagnosed mental health condition could benefit from therapy, for those who are either undiagnosed or are struggling with anxiety, stress, grief, sadness, etc. but do not meet diagnostic criteria for a mental health disorder, it may be harder to discern whether therapy is warranted.

How am I functioning in the important areas of my life?

For nearly every condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V; APA, 2013), clinically significant impairment in an important area of functioning is a required criterion to receive a diagnosis. In other words, the presenting symptoms must be making it very difficult to function at work or school, in relationships, or in another important life domain (e.g., a person is feeling so anxious that she is not able to make important presentations at work, or so stressed that he is finding it difficult to connect with his loved ones).  When life has begun to feel unmanageable in some capacity, or if something that was once easy or mildly distressing has become so distressing it feels impossible, it may be worth considering therapy.

Could things be better?

It’s also important to note that you do not have to feel as though things are falling apart before you seek professional counseling. Therapy can be helpful in a wide range of situations. It can help you not only navigate major challenges or emotionally painful periods, but also can enhance your overall wellbeing by helping you to identify your values and lean into them. Maybe things are going fine, but could be better. A therapist can help you identify what could be going better and can help you learn to fine tune the necessary skills.

I want to try therapy, but where do I start?

Whether things feel totally unmanageable or it just feels like they could be better, it’s important to find a therapist with expertise relevant to what you would like assistance with. Working with children requires different expertise to working with adults, just as working with couples and families requires additional expertise to working with individuals. Different conditions also correspond with particular evidence based practices. For stress and anxiety disorders – including social anxiety, generalized anxiety, panic disorder or panic attacks, and phobias – evidence based practices include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The gold standard of treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), and evidence based treatments for PTSD include Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) (all of these—ERP, PE, and CPT --fall under the CBT umbrella). So no matter what you are seeking treatment for, ensuring that the therapist you choose has expertise that aligns with the types of concerns you are struggling with is critical. For some more tips on finding and choosing a therapist, click here and here. For more information on the different kinds of licenses a therapist may have, click here.  

Though there is no right or wrong answer as to whether or not you need therapy, if you are unable to behave in ways that make life manageable and/or fulfilling because of difficult thoughts or feelings, you may find therapy beneficial.

CSAM IS HERE TO HELP

If you or someone you love might benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for anxiety, panic, phobias, stress, PTSD, OCD, or insomnia, or if you would like more information about our therapy services, please contact us at (858) 354-4077 or at info@csamsandiego.com

DEALING WITH BACK-TO-SCHOOL ANXIETY IN YOUNG CHILDREN

Jill Stoddard

a guest blog post originally posted on SitterCity.com

As parents prepare their children for the school year to begin, it’s easy to get swept up in all the details: Are the school medical forms filled out? What’s left on the school supplies list? Have you found an after-school sitter yet?

Ticking off all the items on your family’s back-to-school checklist is important, but it’s equally important to pay attention to your child’s behavior during the weeks leading up to school. Anxiety about advancing to a new grade or starting a new school is normal; after all, people of all ages need time to adjust to a new situation. Here are a few ways you can turn those back-to-school jitters into excitement.

(Please note: If you suspect that something more than garden-variety jitters is going on, call your pediatrician who can refer you to a child psychologist for a consultation.)

Get some sleep.

A well-rested kid is a happy kid. While it’s fun to stay up late and sleep in during the summer, it’s important to get bedtime on track at least a week before school starts. Kids can feel grouchy, upset or fearful when they’re sleep deprived. Start practicing normal school day wakeups a week or two in advance so they get used to their new schedule.

Attend the open house. 

Schools often host an open house a couple weeks before classes begin. Be sure to clear your schedule for it — it’s an invaluable chance for your child to meet their new teacher and start feeling comfortable with them, as well as a chance to check out their new classroom.

Plan play dates. 

If you’re new to a school, open houses are also a chance for kids to mingle with their new classmates a little with the safety of you still being around, so they’re not making as many introductions on the first day of school. As you chat with the other parents, see if any of them are open to the idea of a play date, even if it’s just meeting up informally at the playground so your kids can continue to get to know each other.

Do a practice run. 

If your child is starting at a new school, take the time to do a dry run of the morning commute. On one of the mornings they’re waking up early, be sure to get them dressed and out the door on time, too. Practice walking or driving to school — whatever your normal commute will entail. If your child is taking a bus to school for the first time, drive along the bus’s route and answer any questions they might have about what school buses are like.

Eat at a cafeteria. 

Is this the first time your child will be eating a hot lunch at school? Go to a cafeteria-style restaurant to help them practice holding a tray, waiting in line, selecting from multiple options and sitting at a bench-style table. Even if you’re planning to pack a bag lunch, it’s doesn’t hurt to get your child used to a cafeteria-like environment.

Visit the library.

It’s time to do a little back-to-school reading! There are plenty of great children’s stories that address back-to-school anxiety. A few worth checking out are First Day Jitters by Julie Dannenberg; The Night Before Kindergarten and The Night Before First Grade, both by Natasha Wing; The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn; and Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, by Joseph Slate. Talk to your librarian to see if they have any other recommendations as well.

Take care of the details.

Pay attention to little things that will help make the first week of school smooth sailing. Have them pick out some new clothes and a new backpack for the first few days of school so there are no morning wardrobe meltdowns. If they’re bringing their lunch, plan out a few of their favorite meals ahead of time. Create a morning “launch pad” for backpacks and coats. These may seem like little things, but they can add up to a lot of stress for a child, and they’re easy to prepare for in advance.

Listen to them.

Keep those lines of communication open! Ask you’re child if they’re excited for school, what subject they’re looking forward to most and what friends they’re excited to see. If they’re experiencing social anxiety this is a good time to start talking it out and reassuring them. Being understanding and supportive is the most important thing you can do to ensure your little one has a great back-to-school experience.

Anxiety in Children

Jill Stoddard

 

Have you noticed that your child seems to be experiencing a significant amount of anxiety? Learn more about the anxiety disorders that can develop at a young age and the support that is available. If you would like to seek the help of a professional, contact us to schedule an appointment with our child anxiety specialist now.

 

Childhood Anxiety Disorders

 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Learn more about GAD.

Things to look out for:

·      Excessive worry about a variety of things in your child’s life

·      Perfectionism and self-criticism

·      Constant need for approval or reassurance

 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Learn more about OCD.

Things to look out for:

·      Obsessions: Experiencing unwanted and intrusive thoughts

·      Compulsions: Repeatedly perform rituals and/or routines in order to ward off anxious feelings

 

Panic Disorder

Learn more about panic disorder and panic attacks.

Things to look out for:

·      Panic/anxiety attacks that come on for no reason or out of the blue

·      If your child is concerned about or afraid of having another panic attack in the future

 

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Learn more about PTSD.

Things to look out for:

·      Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic or life-threatening event

·      Intense fear/anxiety

·      Emotional numbness

·      Easily irritable

·      Avoidance of places, people or activities

 

 

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Learn more about separation anxiety disorder here.

Things to look out for:

·      Your child is slightly older (common in ages seven to nine)

·      Unable to be separated from loved ones or takes significantly longer to calm down compared to other children

·      Experiences extreme homesickness/misery at being separated from loved ones

 

Social Anxiety Disorder

Learn more about social anxiety disorder.

Things to look out for:

·      Intense fear or anxiety related to social interactions

·      Anxiety about performance and activities

·      Extreme shyness or inhibition

·      Difficulty making new friends or speaking with peers

 

Selective Mutism

Visit online: Selective Mutism Group

Things to look out for:

·      Refusing to speak in situations that make your child anxious

·      Standing motionless/expressionless

·      Avoiding eye contact, chewing/twirling hair, turning heads

 

Specific Phobias

Learn more about phobias.

Things to look out for:

·      Intense irrational fear of a specific object or situation (such as animals, storms, blood, needles, medical procedures, etc.)

 

 

Treatments Offered at CSAM

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an empirically supported treatment that focuses on modifying problematic thoughts & behaviors that contribute to & maintain emotional problems like anxiety, stress, & depression. Like traditional forms of therapy, CBT emphasizes a warm, safe, & empathic therapeutic environment. CBT is different from some approaches in that it focuses on present-day problems & learning skills to overcome symptoms. It teaches children to identify thoughts & behaviors that are keeping your child stuck, so your child may develop more adaptive ways for navigating life.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and commitment therapy is an empirically supported treatment that focuses on reducing experiential avoidance and accepting internal experiences (thoughts and feelings) in the service of living a valued, vital, meaningful existence.  Mindfulness, metaphors, and experiential exercises play a central role in ACT.

 

Biofeedback

Biofeedback is an empirically supported treatment that focuses on balancing the nervous system. Biofeedback is shown to be extremely effective at helping patients reduce anxiety and stress, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain (including migraines), increase focus and attention, and reduce hyper-vigilance commonly experienced after trauma.

 

How Can I Respond to My Child?

 

ADAA provides the following suggestions in their article “Tips for Parents and Caregivers”

Source: http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children/tips-parents-and-caregivers

 

Here are things you can do at home to help your child manage his or her anxiety disorder:

 

Pay attention to your child’s feelings.

Stay calm when your child becomes anxious about a situation or event.

Recognize and praise small accomplishments.

Don’t punish mistakes or lack of progress.

Be flexible and try to maintain a normal routine.

Modify expectations during stressful periods.

Plan for transitions (For example, allow extra time in the morning if getting to school is difficult).

Keep in mind that your child’s anxiety disorder diagnosis is not a sign of poor parenting. It may add stress to family life, however. It is helpful to build a support network of relatives and friends

Resources:

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA

www.ADAA.org

 



Are you interested in scheduling an appointment with our child specialist? If you'd like to speak with a professional at the Center for Stress and Anxiety Management for help with anxiety, please click here.

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