Treatments for Separation Anxiety Disorder in Children

Treatment for separation anxiety disorders vary from child to child, and your child’s therapist will work with you to determine the best approach for your child’s symptoms and circumstances. Treatment may include parent guidance, therapy, and/ or medication.

Psychotherapy, with parent and child involved, is an effective method of overcoming the disproportionate anxiety that is the calling card of SAD. An experienced mental health professional uses therapy to help your child practice healthy responses to anxiety, replacing the damaging practices of worry and avoidance learned before. Therapy sessions help you and your child:

  • How to recognize and vocalize worry and fear
  • Techniques (such as breathing and imaging a relaxing scene) to reduce physical symptoms of anxiety
  • New thought patterns to replace the destructive ones (for example, instead of a worry thought the child can remember “I will be okay. I did it before, I can do it again.”)
  • To approach feared situations in steps so that the child is practicing and experiencing success when separated from her parents.

There are many different medications used to help control anxiety. A prescribing clinician (psychiatrist or nurse practitioner) will choose a medication if needed that will work best to help your child.