Steps to take if your child needs help with anxiety

Finding good and reliable information on treatments for medical conditions is difficult and confusing, but finding information on treatment for emotional or mentalhealth can seem downright impossible. It’s a complicated issue and hard to say why there is a lack of information and why mental health treatmentsremain so mysterious. But this is our attempt to help uncover the mystery as it relates to treatment for anxiety in children. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1. Take a deep breath – there is good news.Know that struggle with anxiety is very common (you are not alone and we know a lot about this now), and that there is good news – there are tools and treatments that really work to help kids (and adults) with anxiety.

Step 2. Become and expert. Become an expert in anxiety management strategies yourself so you can convey confidence to your child that there are things to do to make anxiety less strong. Only if you understand and believe in the tools, can your child believe in the process of learning and trying these strategies.

Our online parent-training program, Child Anxiety Tales , can help you with this part – you’ll know all you need about child anxiety and even learn some strategies that you can start implementing right away.

There are also a few terrific books for parents that give information on tools and strategies for helping kids with anxiety. Find our recommended list on our “Books That May Be Helpful For Parents” page.

Step 3. Find evidence-based treatment. There are a lot of treatment providers, counselors, therapists, doctors, programs, community agencies, etc. out there. It’s very confusing knowing where to seek support. Psychiatrists provide medication management and sometimes also provide psychotherapy (or talk-therapy). Psychologists and counselors provide psychotherapy and do not prescribe medications. Your insurance provider may have some suggested providers, or your school, or community. Which provider you choose is ultimately up to you.

We recommend working with a treatment provider or group that is using a treatment that has data from strict controlled research to support its use – we call that “evidence-based treatment.” You can go to our “Treatment Options ” page to learn more about evidence-based treatments and what to ask your provider about the treatment they are offering. If you are interested in finding Cognitive-Behavioral treatment options, you can also go to the “Finding Help ” section to find online referral lists and also a “Global Map” with a network of research and practice groups that have expertise in CBT for child anxiety.

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