New Child Anxiety Program Hosts First Annual Forum

Parents, educators and child-focused practitioners filled the Yale Child Study Center’s Cohen Auditorium on Thursday, April 24, 2014, as the Center’s new Program for Anxiety Disorders hosted its First Annual Forum for Concerned Parents and Professionals. The event was a full-day introduction to the Program’s approach to assessing and treating child and adolescent anxiety disorders, led by Program Director Wendy K. Silverman, Ph.D., ABPP and Assistant Professor Eli R. Lebowitz, Ph.D.

Dr. Silverman started the day by introducing the prevalence of childhood anxiety disorders, describing the different ways anxiety often manifests in childhood and how to identify if anxiety is a problem, and presenting strategies for handling (and preventing the exacerbation of) anxiety symptoms. Many audience participants requested information about school refusal in particular, and Dr. Silverman addressed how treatment for this problem is driven by a thorough assessment of the function school refusal behavior has for an individual child. Dr. Lebowitz then presented his work with the families of children diagnosed with anxiety, exploring the ways in which parents (and other adults) may inadvertently encourage children’s anxiety by helping them avoid the objects of their fears. The Program for Anxiety Disorders is currently studying the outcomes of a parent-based intervention created by Dr. Lebowitz, aimed at teaching parents how to support their children to cope independently with anxiety versus overprotecting or demanding that the child change his/her behavior. Dr. Silverman also discussed the well-researched intervention of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for children and adolescents with anxiety, in which a core theme is guiding children to gradually confront and think differently about their fears instead of continuing to avoid situations that cause fear and worry.

Attendees of this first annual forum expressed great enthusiasm for the passion and knowledge of both speakers and the usefulness of the material they presented. Several audience members have requested additional training for their staff members at agencies and schools. The Program for Anxiety Disorders is delighted to have had this opportunity to introduce its work to the community, and is excited for ongoing collaboration with parents and professionals to create and deliver the most effective research-based anxiety treatments for children and adolescents.

This article was submitted by Emily E.H. Hau on May 2, 2014.

Related People

Eli R. Lebowitz

Assistant Professor in the Child Study Center

Wendy K Silverman

Alfred A. Messer Professor in the Child Study Center and Professor of Psychology