Contact:  Heather Chamberlain, PsyD 

101 Lucas Valley Dr #267 San Rafael CA 94903

Phone:  415-524-7882  

e-mail:  heather@mmt.sprucecare.com   

Marin Meaningful Therapy & Assessment Center

© 2019 Heather Chamberlain, PsyD

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Therapy for Anxiety 

Anxiety is difficult to manage.  And perhaps the hardest part about anxiety is the thing that will help, confronting the situations that make us anxious, makes us so anxious that we avoid it entirely.  Which in turn makes the anxiety worse.  What a pickle!

In order to face that which makes us anxious, from giving a presentation in school to meeting new people, we have to feel that we have some skills that help us calm down.  Each child and teen has different things that help them self-soothe or calm down.  Therapy can help us identify what would be most helpful for your child and build their calming down toolbox.

Another part of anxiety treatment is understanding what triggers us or what causes the anxiety.  Some children are very aware of what causes their anxiety while others struggle, feeling the stress and anxiety in their body while having difficulty identifying what the cause or causes of anxiety is.  Finding these triggers allow us to help a child or teen to prepare for possible anxiety provoking situations and to find different calming strategies to manage the intense feelings.  

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be very helpful with anxiety by identifying different behaviors and thoughts that are contributing to the anxiety.  With CBT strategies, your child or teen can learn how to manage their automatic negative self talk and replace it with more helpful and positive statements.  They will also learn how to manage their behaviors to decrease anxiety and increase ability to relax and stay calm.  Exposure to the feared situation may also be helpful to decrease anxiety.  Unfortunately avoidance is common in anxious children and your child may require a great deal of support to try to confront the feared situation.  

 

Stress management may also be part of the plan to help your child regulate their emotions.  This may mean more exercise, better sleep, and other ways to calm down the body and the mind, such as meditation or mindfulness.  If other members of the family are struggling, stress management for the rest of the family may be beneficial as well.

Each child and teen is unique and thus, the approach to managing their anxiety is unique as well.  Dr. Chamberlain works with you and your child to develop a plan that specifically tailored for your child and family's needs.  In a warm and supportive environment, she helps children confront their fears and learn ways to manage stressors that occur every day.

Food Allergy Anxiety

 

Food allergies impact over 5.6 million children under the age of 18 according to foodallergy.org.  Unfortunately some children can have life threatening reactions to exposure such as anaphylaxis.  These reactions, especially when severe, are extremely scary.  Reactions could include use of an epi-pen or going to the hospital for additional treatment.

The physiological experiences of a reaction can be very scary as well.  Itching, welts, chest pain, shortness of breath, and swelling of the throat and tongue can be terrifying.  Excessive anxiety can also show up in different ways, such as concerns about dying, compulsions about hand washing, or emotional melt-downs related to concerns about contamination.  Unfortunately medical trauma can result if a child has an intense reaction or has to go to the hospital.  If a child doesn't fully understand what happened or becomes overcome by fear, symptoms can show up.  If the anxiety and fears persist, your child may benefit from some additional support.

An important aspect of managing a severe food allergy is maintaining the proper level of vigilance.  A child needs to be aware of safety precautions (at an appropriate level related to their development) and the safety plan that is in place.  Talking with your pediatrician about safety plans will be an important part of treatment.  It is important for you as a parent to fully understand intensity of reactions as well as possible allergens.  In addition, it is important to help your child develop the right level of reaction to possible situations (not over-reacting and not under-reacting).  Many children can have a great deal of anxiety around the allergy, especially if they have had an episode that intense or scary, while others may not be as vigilant as they need to be.  However, if they are able to understand the situation and feel safe because of plans in place, it can decrease anxiety.

Finding ways to support your child and have the right level of vigilance can be difficult.  Talking to school personnel and ensuring safety is critical.  If your child or your family is struggling with anxiety or trauma related to a food allergy, Dr. Chamberlain can support your family in finding ways to manage these feelings.  Dr. C helps you create a sense of safety for your child and teaches calming skills to reduce anxiety.  Food allergies can be scary, but with proper planning and the ability to react in an appropriate manner, your child can learn the appropriate level of vigilance required to keep them as safe as possible.  

Photo by Marta Branco from Pexels

Test Anxiety

 

Fortunately or unfortunately, our education system in America uses tests to evaluate to learning.  While some kids and teens breeze through this requirements, others can have intense test anxiety about these exams, leading to stomach aches, sweaty palms, and even refusing to go to school on test day.  When your child or teen is struggling with a high level of test anxiety, it makes it difficult for them to do their best on these exams.

Test anxiety can stem from a number of places.  For some, it comes from a lack of good study habits and preparedness.  For others, it can be related to general anxiety during the test.  Difficulties with focusing or attention can also come into play, as can undiagnosed learning disorders.  Figuring out what is causing your child's test anxiety is the first step to helping them decrease it.

If your child is struggling with study skills, we will evaluate what their specific needs are and create a plan to improve this area.  If anxiety is in play, we will use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help them manage their negative thoughts, stress levels, and find ways to practice using these skills in a functional manner.  If Dr. Chamberlain has concerns about focus or learning, she may recommend additional assessment to evaluate possible difficulties.  When a child is struggling with learning issues or a learning disability, they may benefit from an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) which Dr. C will explain and provide resources related to.

Unfortunately, tests only show a person's learning during a small sliver of time, but many of us and our children feel a great deal of pressure to do well.  Additional big tests such as SAT, ACT, GRE, MCAT, and others can be important determinants in future options and we want our child to have the opportunity to show his or her very best without the hinderance of anxiety.