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Old 03-05-2005, 12:19 AM
Kathy Kathy is offline
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Default Children with anxiety

Hi. Thank you for taking the time to hear my question. My nine year old daughter has seperation anxiety with panic. I love her therapist, but I feel it would be helpful to find a support group with children that have same difficulties so she does not feel alone. I am not sure if her therapist agrees with me, she could not refer me to a group and I was wondering what you thought of the idea?
Thank you.
K
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Old 03-05-2005, 01:11 PM
Dr. Joe Dr. Joe is offline
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Kathy--
To be honest with you, I've never worked with a group at this age. I can see where this could help, but my inclination would be to work one-on-one. My "inclination" doesn't mean a group wouldn't be helpful, just that I approach panic and anxiety very directly using Self-Coaching. Let me tell you how Self-Coaching can help.

Please understand that with both adults and children, once a foundation of insecurity is established, the mind begins to spin fictions of fear, doubt, danger and chaos. Anxiety and panic reflect a feeling or conviction that we can't handle something. Whatís necessary is to first establish a good rapport. Continue to get your daughter to tell you her fears and begin by helping her understand the difference between fact and fiction. Whatís happening is that her fantasies (that she canít handle being alone or separate from you) are beginning to become a form of auto-suggestion and, in a sense, sheís hypnotizing herself into being fearful (i.e., ìI canít handle this without mommy or daddy.î). Obviously, this quickly becomes a habit as confidence erodes and is replaced by distrust and insecurity. Try to help her understand that thereís always a choice. In my book Self-Coaching: How to Heal Anxiety and Depression, I talk about using a concept called the Insecure Child (which I use in conjunction with a technique I call Self-Talk). This refers to the primitive, reflexive-thinking-habit of insecurity. This concept works really well with children. Tell your daughter to imagine a frightened little child, one who feels she canít possibly be okay without mommy or daddy. It helps to give this child-part of his thinking a name. For example, Scared Mary. Then you might, for example, say, ìYou say youíre afraid that mommy and daddy are going to go on a trip, is that you doing the talking or is that Scared Mary?î In this case, most children will readily tell, ìThatís Scared Mary!î Then you would respond, ìWell, it seems to me that if you listen to Scared Mary youíre going to become scared. Why not tell Scared Mary to leave you alone and to get lost!î

What youíre doing is teaching your daughter that she has a choiceóthat she doesnít have to be victimized by her insecurities. Working in this way, you begin to help her distinguish between insecurity-driven fictions and reality--itís all about breaking the habit-belief of distrust and insecurity. Whenever you see your daughter upset, you just ask, ìIs Scared Mary talking to you again?î Youíd be surprised how easy it is for kids to begin to realize, ìHey, Iím not going to let Scared Mary tell me what to do.î Try it out, it works great.

Disclaimer: The diagnosis of clinical anxiety or depressive disorders requires a physician or other qualified mental health professional. The information provided is intended for informational purposes only. Please understand that the opinions shared with you are meant to be general reference information, and are not intended as a diagnosis or substitute for consulting with your physician or other qualified mental health professional.
Yours truly,
Dr. Joe
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