Anxiety and mood disorders are among the most common mental health problems affecting children and teenagers. Although anxiety and mood disorders are highly treatable, many kids who are suffering do not get the help they need. Distress that affects a child's happiness deserves our best efforts to help.
Anxiety disorders take various forms, and their manifestations vary with age. In all instances, the child's discomfort is excessive and disproportionate to the situation. Anxiety disorders include Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Social Anxiety, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Specific Phobia, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Other related difficulties include Selective Mutism, and Disruptive and Oppositional behavior.
Depressed children and teenagers experience a change in their enjoyment of life. They may be irritable and moody, complain of feeling bored all of the time, and have less interest in activities that they used to enjoy, such as playing sports or spending time with friends. Dysthymia is a more chronic condition than Major Depression. Children and teens explain their sadness as less severe and will often describe feeling "blah" or "blue." Bipolar Disorder is a phasic condition in which mood is variable. During some periods of time, the child is depressed; during other periods, the child feels elated, over confident, impulsive, and easily frustrated.
Our Clinical Services:
A member of our specialty team will meet with your family to perform a comprehensive assessment, which includes an interview and the completion of questionnaires. Our goal is to help you understand your child's behavior and specific difficulties, including any relevant diagnoses, and to provide you with recommendations for the most appropriate treatment plan to meet your family's needs.
Our treatment services are based on scientific research that indicates which treatments are most effective for particular childhood difficulties. When devising a treatment plan, it is our goal to tailor the therapeutic approach to meet the specific needs of your child. We aim to address emotional symptoms and behaviors, as well as any impairment in social, academic, or family functioning. To provide comprehensive care, our clinicians can consult with professionals outside of our center as well, such as teachers or speech and language therapists.
Two specific modalities for the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders are Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medication:
- CBT is a specific form of psychotherapy that has documented success in treating child and adolescent anxiety and mood disorders. It is a short-term, problem-focused approach. Children and parents are educated about the specific difficulties the child is experiencing, and taught an array of coping skills to help them manage emotional distress and the physical symptoms, negative thoughts, and problematic behaviors that often accompany these emotions. Our clinicians can meet with children individually or within a group. In addition, they offer family therapy as well as parent coaching. To learn more about CBT, click here.
- Medications are available to help calm anxiety or lift the mood of a depressed child or teenager. In certain situations, research has shown that a combination of medication and CBT is the most effective course of treatment. In other situations, psychotherapy is not an appropriate match for your child. Our doctors are up-to-date and informed on the most effective and safe medications for children and teenagers.
Specialized Programs and Group Treatments
Every year, the clinical staff at the NYU Child Study Center offer a variety of different treatment programs. The following services are being offered currently:
- OCD Summer Program - Our OCD Summer Program is a unique, intensive, group treatment for children with OCD created by psychologists with expertise in exposure and response prevention. The program offers research-based techniques, including exposure, response prevention, and skills training, against the backdrop of group games and field trips. Each child will have a doctoral-level psychologist as well as a psychology graduate student (or "counselor") assigned to them so that they receive individual attention in this group setting. This treatment creates a supportive and fun therapeutic environment for children who struggle day-in and day-out with upsetting thoughts and time-consuming rituals. The 2012 summer program will run from August 6th through 10th, from 9am-4pm and is open to children ages 9-12.
- Help for Shy and Socially Anxious Youth - Our Cognitive-Behavioral social phobia group (BOOST: Bringing Out Our Shy Teens) is a program offered to youth (ages 13-19) suffering from shyness and social anxiety. The program duration is approximately 14-16 weeks.
- Parenting Workshops for Parents of Anxious Children - Our clinicians offer a series of four workshops for parents who have anxious children or children who are already receiving individual therapy for anxiety. The workshops are designed to provide parents with information about childhood anxiety, as well as strategies to use to help their children cope with their fears.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy - Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy designed to treat individuals with difficulty regulating emotions and behaviors. Click here to learn more about DBT.
- Intensive Treatment for Anxiety (including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) - When appropriate, our clinicians can develop an intensive treatment program for your child. Research has demonstrated that increased frequency and length of sessions can be effective in achieving progress and reducing symptoms of anxiety. Working within this more intensive structure allows for opportunities to learn coping skills quickly and to gain more in depth practice with exposure and response prevention. Intensive treatment programs are often developed for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and phobias, however they can also be tailored to the needs of your child if such needs are clinically indicated.
To schedule a consultation or to learn more about our services, please contact an intake coordinator at (646) 754-5000 or email us at services@AboutOurKids.org.
Aleta Angelosante, PhD, Clinical Director