Anxiety Therapy for Children or Adolescents

SF Stress and Anxiety Center provides professional help, counseling and therapy for children and adolescents who are suffering from anxiety disorders. Contact us now--we care, and we can help.


When we observe children exhibiting signs of anxiety, we may assume that it is just a phase, and that it will soon go away. But when anxiety persists, or when it becomes so problematic that it interferes with a child’s schooling or family life, then it is crucial to get help.

Serious anxiety may not improve on its own, and it often tends to worsen over time, as a child learns that avoiding certain activities makes the anxiety go away in the short term. Over time, the child, and even the family, may fall into the habit of avoiding things that trigger anxiety. Paradoxically, this often makes the anxiety stronger and more difficult to deal with.

When seeking medical attention for anxiety, many children are initially prescribed antidepressants or other medication. However, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be as effective or more effective than medication in the treatment of anxiety. Decades of clinical research have demonstrated that CBT is the most powerful method of treating severe anxiety. Through CBT, children can learn skills to manage anxiety immediately, and then build on these skills to develop the resilience to deal with life’s inevitable stressors.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Children and Teens

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Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the fundamental idea that our thoughts and beliefs affect how we think and feel. When we can identify the ways that our thinking is misguided, distorted, or inaccurate, we can change or better deal with our difficult emotions.

Since young children tend to be less adept at describing their thoughts and emotions, CBT for children tends to focus more heavily on bejaviors. The therapist may identify behaviors that serve to maintain or exacerbate anxiety (such as avoidance), and then teach the child to use new, more effective behaviors when they are feeling anxious.

One commonly used technique is exposure therapy. Exposure involves helping the child to gradually come into contact with a difficult situation, while teaching them ways to deal with the anxiety until it fades away. As the child goes through the therapeutic process, they learn that fear is something that can be faced and surmounted.

The Bully in the Brain

When learning to deal with anxiety, it’s important for kids and parents alike to come to see anxiety as something separate, a scary but harmless thing that shows up uninvited and tries to “mess up” your life. The therapist may assign exercises to identify and keep track of the anxiety Bully, and provide the kid with techniques to “fight back” against it.

Customized Treatment, Tailored to Your Child

When treating anxiety, expert therapists use well-established treatment approaches to guide their treatment decisions. Because anxiety can look very different from one child to the next, considerable skill is required to properly diagnose and design an effective treatment plan. All clinicians at at our center are well-versed in CBT and other, complementary treatment approaches.