Category: <span>Children Therapy</span>

How Much Do You Know about School Anxiety?

As the beginning of the school year is upon us, we want to acknowledge what that means for the many families navigating the anxiety of the upcoming year. Most students have spent over a year learning remotely, disconnected from friends and their routine, and have been catapulted back into school, and not everyone is excited about that.

Many students (and even parents) are experiencing anxiety just thinking about this school year, but what is anxiety, and what does it look like?

More on Anxiety 

Anxiety is a feeling of worries, fear, and/or nervousness about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. By technical definition, school anxiety in our children can look like separation anxiety, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety.

What you and your child may experience daily:

  • Separation Anxiety- or children basically being afraid of being away from their parents. This makes sense after being home with you for most of the past year. The idea of leaving parents or the safety of their home can become distressing for students. This can express itself as difficulty waking up in the morning, crying to enter the school building, and in some cases refusing to attend class or school altogether.
  • Social anxiety is an intense fear or worry in social situations or just thinking about being in a social context. Your child may express concerns about fitting in or feeling embarrassed amongst their peers and describe feeling self-conscious in social situations. It can show up as a reluctance or refusal to go to school, dropping extracurricular activities, being more withdrawn at home, or children visibly distressed at the end of the day or going out of their way to not be seen.
  • Generalized anxiety is when they anticipate the future with every possible negative outcome, usually characterized by many “what if” this or that happens questions or scenarios. With this type of anxiety, young people are just worried about everything- be it getting good grades, if they’ll get into college, if they will get covid by stepping outside, etc. Usually, these worries have no discernible cause.

Supporting and Encouraging Your Anxious Child

The most important thing you can do is pay attention to any significant changes in your child as parents and educators. Are they struggling to pay attention in class, not socializing with other classmates, avoiding eye contact, or trying hard to avoid school or different social situations? You can even look for physical symptoms (because distress often shows up physically): Nausea, headaches, trouble sleeping, or changes in their appetite. The article “How to Help When Your Child Is Anxious About Going Back to School” suggests a few ways in which parents and teachers can help with children experiencing anxiety. The most important one is recognizing the signs of anxiety. Once you do, we suggest the following:

  1. Talk to your child or students about why they are anxious, along with discussing any possible scenarios that cause them to be worried. Helping them prepare for upcoming stressors and interjecting realistic outcomes can be helpful. The key is to approach with support and never brush off a child’s fear, even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, because it is a significant issue for the child.

 

  1. Don’t judge or criticize what your child or teen is experiencing. The intense anxiety and unhelpful thoughts of those dealing with anxiety may seem ridiculous to someone who has never experienced it, but it still is a real experience. That said, take time to educate yourself on your child’s experience. As parents, we don’t always have all the answers.

 

  1. Be careful not to reinforce avoidant behavior. We want your child to learn to navigate their fears, but they may need more coping tools to do so, instead of staying away from school or social situations or being forced into it with a do what I sayor else approach. We want them to learn that some anxiety is ok. If you keep trying to protect them from that, you’ll reinforce their lack of confidence in handling stressful and anxiety-provoking situations.

 

  1. Notice your own anxious reactions. Anxiety sometimes runs in families as well. Notice how it shows up around your children or other aspects of your life. Either way, your goal is to model healthy coping skills for your child. If you are struggling with anxiety yourself, it might even mean seeking professional support for yourself as well.
Download the FREE Depression and Anxiety Checklist

5. Try creative ways to get their worries off their minds. One activity that can be done is journaling. Having them write down whenever they are feeling anxious. Then have them rewrite that story with a more helpful ending or practice leaving the worry behind in the journal.

 

  1. Remember to celebrate progress (and even yours in holding back and letting them fail and/or thrive on their own). No matter how small it may seem, encouragement equals continued positive action.

If you are all out of ideas, and things are escalating, it’s ok to ask for help. Globally, social anxiety disorder is the third most prominent mental health issue- that means you or your child are not alone in your experience- so no shame in talking about it.

Start with your school counselor for ideas on supporting your child, maybe their primary care doctor, or reach out and contact a licensed therapist for an assessment and plan of action. Anxiety can be addressed with skills and support, both from a professional and the entire family system.

 

Article written by Kilcy Martinez, Social Work Intern at York College, and Amanda Fludd, Executive Director at Kensho Psychotherapy Services. Our goal is to support your wellbeing and strive to do that in many ways including therapy, group experiences and corporate wellness events.

 

Finding A Therapist That Works For You

So, you’ve finally decided it’s time to see a therapist, only to find out there are many types of professionals, including Psychiatrists, Social Workers, LCSW’s, Ph.D’s, and MHC’s, who address many issues like childhood trauma, depression after a job loss, managing a break up, life transitions and more, which can make the search confusing. It’s important to know it can take a bit of research, time, trial and error, and patience.

To help you better navigate finding a therapist or mental health provider, we have compiled a super easy list below. Several professionals across the U.S. have joined in collaboration of this project, including Amanda Fludd, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW-R) and NYC Therapist, to give you all the tools you need to navigate the challenging task of finding a psychotherapist.

 

  1. Start with a Licensed Professional. A licensed professional means the person in front of you has had to meet a standard of supervised training and education and took an exam designated by their State governing body to earn their license. Their license usually also requires them to take additional training to maintain their license, so they are constantly learning and growing. If someone is unlicensed, you will want to ask if they are supervised by a licensed professional (get their name and research them), and how that would work in your case. Some limited permit holders or interns are examples of unlicensed professionals who can help, if they have quality supervision and regular oversight to best address your

 

  1. The fit. Knowing yourself and the type of person you best respond to is essential in this process. For example, if you’ve experienced a traumatic experience with a male, you may not be ready to talk openly and honestly with a male therapist. In general, you want to feel comfortable with your When looking for one, something about their description when researching should speak to your need. Fit is important to us at Kensho Psychotherapy Services. From the initial consult, we are listening to your needs and assessing who on the team would be a good fit.

We always recommend staying with your therapist for at least two months to see if a working therapeutic relationship can develop where you are open, you’ve developed goals, and feel like you are doing work in therapy. Therapy is a beautiful working process, and sometimes it’s just not the right fit for the client and therapist. You as the client, may also come to realize you may not be ready to commit to the time therapy requires, or face deep emotional work, and on the other hand, the therapist may recognize your needs like complex trauma, anxiety or chronic depression are out their scope of practice, and in that case refer you out. If you just want general support and direction, and less intensive work, you may benefit more from a counselor, that unlicensed intern, or a life coach. At Kensho Psychotherapy we treat the difficult and offer deep connections and strategies and specifically specialize in general anxiety, depression, trauma work and minority mental health.

  1. Be patient. As more people are looking for therapy, it means there may be wait-lists and trouble getting through to someone on the other line. It helps to reach out to multiple providers that may be a fit and leave a message with your concern, type of insurance, and the best number that you can be reached. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t reach the first person you call. Other places to look include Psychologytoday.com, Therapy for Black Girls, or just reach out to us here, and we will do our best to connect you.

4. I’ve found someone, now what? It is important to know that everyone is nervous for the first                                 appointment and your therapist will be asking you lots of questions to figure out what’s going on, and if                     they can help. You can also ask questions too because you need to know if this is a potential match for you                 as well. Just go right with this list and ask:

  • Have you treated other clients with my particular issue?
  • Do you have a niche you enjoy working with? What about a particular clinical approach? Can you tell me more about that?
  • What will sessions look like?
  • What happens if I’m not comfortable, and this isn’t working out, how would we end services?
  • How long have you been practicing and are you a licensed professional?
  • If unlicensed, what has your training looked like and are you under supervision? Can I have your supervisors name.
  • Is it easy to reach you, how can I reach you in an emergency, or non-emergency?

 

Therapy isn’t always pretty; it’s work. With these tips, you are well on your way to finding a good connection on your journey to a healthier and more balanced you.

 

The Kensho Psychotherapy Team

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