Monday, December 12, 2011

Treatments for Childhood Anxiety Disorders written by our Guest Psychologist Dr Nicole Arthur Jindalee Brisbane

Psychological intervention has been shown to effectively help children to manage and reduce the symptoms of childhood anxiety. Specifically, intervention targets factors that maintain the anxiety (i.e. causing it to continue). Such treatment can also reduce the likelihood of its reoccurring. Intervention is provided both directly to the children as well as to their parents. For the majority, best outcomes occur when both are involved in the intervention.

Psychological intervention for children: 
Psychological intervention can help children to understand and effectively manage the symptoms of their anxiety. Relaxation strategies are also generally introduced to assist them with physiological symptoms of anxiety. Other than these symptoms, factors that help maintain the anxiety are generally targeted. Less anxiety-provoking, yet realistic, thought patterns are generally introduced in an age appropriate manner. Most importantly, the children will be helped to be gradually exposed to their fear (hence, reducing avoidance behaviour which is the main maintaining factor of anxiety).
Psychological intervention for parents: 
Parents of anxious children will be educated about the strategies for effectively managing childhood anxiety that are introduced to their children so that they will be able to support the intervention outside therapy sessions. The manners in which they could model to their children non-anxious behaviour and less-anxiety provoking thinking styles could also be introduced. Finally, how to use reward systems to help expose a child gradually to face their fear will be provided.

Treatment Outcomes 
Anxiety is usually manageable. With the appropriate treatment and support, the majority of the children can deal with their symptoms successfully and live their lives to the fullest.

Dr Nicole Arthur
BHMS (Ed) B Arts (Psych)(Hons) D Psych Clin MAPS
Clinical Psychologist and Director