Saturday, April 21, 2012

Anxiety Body Signals in Children

Children seen in a mental health setting have an estimated occurrence of anxiety between 12-20% (Carter, 2010).  Often feelings of anxiety and its concurrent physical discomfort  can cause feelings of fear and confusion which may cause children to have avoidant or distracting responses. 

The therapeutic treatment in relation to anxiety in children and having primary efficacy is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  In the preliminary phase of CBT treatment, psycho-education, the clinician can assist the child to identify their body’s signals when anxious.  By being able to focus on their body’s responses to anxiety (e.g., which signals are the strongest and most noticeable) they become more self-aware and able to promptly use calming or relaxation techniques. 

The below-referenced articles provide more research regarding up-to-date information about anxiety and  children, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approaches, intervention techniques and applicable worksheets. 

Click here for a worksheet for discussing anxiety body signals with children.  This worksheet appears in the book called Anxiety by Stallard, referenced below.

by Tara Shirek

  1.  Carter, S. Managing anxiety in children. (2010). Retrieved on April 14, 2012 from:
  2. Jongsma, A. E., Peterson, L. M., & McInnis, W. P. (2006). Eating disorder. In T.J.Bruce (Ed.), The adolescent psychotherapy treatment planner (4th ed., pp. 109-117). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
  3. Beidas, R.S. , Benjamin, C.L., Edmunds, J.M., Kendall, P.C., Puleo, C.M. (2010) Flexible Applications of the coping cat program for anxious youth. Cognitive Behavioral Practice 17(2): 142–153. doi:10.1016/j.cbpra.2009.11.002.
  4. Stallard, P. (2009). Anxiety: Cognitive behavior therapy with children and young people.  Routledge, London.

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