Psychotherapy, CBT & Counselling in London Marylebone

CBT for Separation Anxiety in London

CBT for Separation Anxiety in London

CBT for Separation Anxiety in London: The IPC Approach

Children often start experiencing anxiety when they are separated from their parents. It can happen from very early childhood to teenage and so on. It usually involves fear and anxiety that affects their personal life. As a result, Children usually refuse to go to school, do their daily activities, and avoid crowded places. It can also include physical symptoms like nightmares, crying, headaches, and vomiting.

Is your Child struggling with Separation Anxiety?

If your child has separation anxiety it means that he experiences worries of being separated from a loved one whom your child has formed an attachment to, usually a caregiver or significant other. This includes fears of being away from the attachment figure or something bad happens to the caregiver. In order to meet formal diagnostic criteria for a separation anxiety diagnosis, this preoccupation must be present for a minimum of 4 weeks in children and a minimum of 6 months in adults. The distress must cause significant impairment in social, academic, occupational/education or other areas of functioning. The fear must exceed anxiety expected for the individual’s developmental level.

The adaptive side of separation anxiety is that it can motivate individuals to stay close to those who look after them and develop attachments. However, this can become problematic if the preoccupation is to such an extent as to prevent the individual separating whatsoever from their loved one. This can lead to high distress when the loved one leaves or refusal to go to school, work or other external places without the loved one.

Some people may be more vulnerable than others to developing these difficulties.

How can CBT for Separation Anxiety in London help?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is one of the most effective methods for the treatment of separation anxiety disorder. Two of the most effective methods used in this therapy for the treatment are flooding and systematic desensitisation. They are forms of exposure therapy. The basic theory behind this therapy is that anxiety cannot be dealt with if the symptoms causing it are ignored. One has to face those scenarios and fight through them to be able to deal with this anxiety successfully. Avoidance just means that you have kept your worst feelings at hold. They don’t just go away.

According to NICE, CBT can help the best in dealing with this sort of situation. Because it lets the child speak of their thoughts and to replace them with the good ones.

 When is the right time to seek CBT for Separation Anxiety?

The features of Separation Anxiety Disorder are anxiety and fear due to the separation of an attachment figure. However, in early childhood, there may be lesser symptoms. But, as the baby grows, the symptoms increase because of their capability to understand things in a better way. You must seek professional help if you see these symptoms for more than for weeks in your child:

  • Excessive distress in daily routine
  • Persistent worries about the separation
  • Refusal to go out with the family members.
  • Fear of being alone
  • Nightmares about separation
  • Physical complaints like stomachaches, headaches, or vomiting.

How long does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Separation Anxiety usually last for?

The treatment plan for separation anxiety disorders includes counselling which can include personal and family counselling. And further, relaxation techniques are used on the kid to let them remain calm. A maximum of 24 sessions of CBT is required to treat this disorder. However, in some cases, it can include other therapies as well because of the nature of the case.

How does a child develop Separation Anxiety?

Predisposing factors

Factors that may increase the likelihood that separation anxiety will develop may include: Early exposure to stressful situations, particularly parental bereavement, parental separation or illness in the family. Parental overprotection and biological vulnerabilities may also predispose some children to developing separation anxiety.

Core beliefs

Core beliefs may include the belief that one is vulnerable and will be unable to cope without their loved one. They may lack belief in their ability to cope and function independently.

Precipitating factors

Factors associated with the definitive onset of separation anxiety may include: stress, routine changes (e.g. a parent working away for longer hours), entering into a romantic relationship as an adult, or becoming a parent

Perpetuating factors

Factors that maintain the problem once it has become established include: Avoidance of situations in which the person will not be with the loved one (e.g. school, work etc). Individuals may also engage in behaviours in order to keep the loved one near, for example feigning illness so they will stay home to look after them.

Protective factors

Factors that are strengths of the person and reduce the severity of problems, promoting healthy and adaptive functioning may include: interests in engaging in activities, support from family and friends and an insight into their behaviour.

CBT for Separation Anxiety in London - A case example.

Luke hears his parents arguing on Sunday night. Luke tells his dad he has a pain in his tummy on Monday. Luke’s dad stays home with home until Wednesday when Luke seems to be feeling much better, playing again with his siblings and running around the house. Wednesday morning, Luke hides his dad’s car keys just before he needs to leave for work. When asked about why he did this Luke explains that he does not want dad to go to work. Luke’s friend, Damian has told Luke that his parents are separating and Damian is going to live with his mother. Luke is worried that his dad is going to move out too.

This can be understood within a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy framework as follows:

Predisposing factors

Factors that may increase the likelihood that separation anxiety will develop: Luke’s parents and siblings are very protective of him as he is the youngest.

Precipitating factors

Factors associated with the definitive onset of separation anxiety: Damian’s parents separating has led Luke to worry that the same thing will happen with his parents. Hearing his parents arguing.

Perpetuating factors

Factors that maintain the problem once it has become established: Luke is avoiding being away from his father by pretending to be sick and then hiding his car keys. In this way he is trying to avoid the chance of them being separated. This is problematic, as Luke is not getting an opportunity to challenge his belief.

Protective factors

Factors that are strengths of the person and reduce the severity of problems, promoting healthy and adaptive functioning: Luke has told his dad his worry about his parents separating. Luke’s and his dad have a strong bond and positive relationship.

A CBT Therapist may work with Luke and his family to help them gain awareness about the issue and help Luke experiment the opportunity to challenge his beliefs.

The International Psychology Clinic: Private Psychologists in London

The International Psychology Clinic: Private Psychologists in London

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