Treatment and Therapy for Children with Anxiety
The typical course of treatment for children with a general anxiety disorder is psychological therapy. Here are the primary forms used:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT is the most widely used type of therapy for general anxiety disorders. Cognitive therapy helps children refute the irrational thoughts that lead to anxiety and teaches them coping skills and methods for managing their fears.
Focused group therapy
Group therapy sessions are common for children with anxiety disorders, and can be quite effective when properly managed. As kids get together with like-minded children to talk things over, they learn to see their anxiety as a condition which others share that can be treated and managed. They offer each other support, reinforcement and encouragement to cope with their anxiety, and learn methods to distinguish their obsessive worries from actual threats. Group therapy is often cheaper than traditional therapy, so it's a good long-term option for helping kids manage an anxiety disorder.
Exposure therapy (ET)
Exposure therapy can be used to treat specific phobias that a child may have as part of their overall condition, and is often utilized if a child's OCD symptoms are especially bad. (Exposure therapy is typically the main form of treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder.) But unlike social phobias and separation anxiety, ET is not as common as a stand-alone therapy for general anxiety. Therapists will typically prescribe it as an extension of cognitive therapy.
Parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT)
PCIT typically occurs through organized classes with other parents whose children are dealing with the same problem. A therapist will watch how parents and children interact together, then recommend ways they can alter any patterns that might reinforce a child's anxiety. Once again, this approach is often used as an addition to standard cognitive therapy.
Cognitive bias modification (CBM)
A specialized technique that is a spinoff of cognitive therapy, CBM involves training people against their tendency to interpret the world through negative subconscious biases. Though this is still a relatively new therapy, a 2012 study by psychologist Yair Bar-Haim of Tel Aviv University reported that ratings of anxiety symptoms reported by the children, parents and clinicians declined for a CBM group of kids with a childhood anxiety disorder as compared with placebo training after 4 weekly sessions.