For Parents

aatc_for-parents_superboyAt The Anxiety Treatment Center of Greater Chicago, we are well known for our successful work with children of all ages, from 2 years through college. Our staff is uniquely trained to diagnose and treat anxiety in children and teens. We offer parents a roadmap for how to purposefully approach their child’s anxiety, providing guidance and support for the entire family.

Recognizing Anxiety

Anxiety disorders affect one in eight children.  Although temporary fears can be a normal part of childhood, if your child is experiencing excessive fear, nervousness, or shyness, they may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.  Anxiety often manifests itself in physical symptoms, so you should pay attention if your child regularly suffers from headaches, stomach aches, or visits the school nurse frequently. Consult the list below for issues that can indicate an anxiety disorder:

  • Chronic worry and reassurance seeking
  • Chronic avoidance of risk taking
  • Perfectionism
  • Shyness, social inhibition, and avoidance of social activities
  • Separation anxiety
  • Inability to sleep or play independently
  • Compulsive hair pulling, nail biting, and skin picking
  • Test-taking anxiety
  • Performance anxiety
  • Poorly developed social skills


aatc_for-parents_kidssilhoetteHow We Can Help

We have many years of experience teaching anxious children how to face and overcome their fears.   Effective intervention during childhood and adolescence is important in preventing anxiety problems from extending into adulthood.  By treating children with cognitive behavioral and exposure therapy we can prevent future problems and empower your child with the tools they need to manage their own anxiety.

When normal participation in school, day care, or community activities is disrupted, staff can accompany the child and parent into these settings to help them overcome their fear.   In older children, staff can discreetly accompany them into avoided situations to help them complete exposure practice.

Parental Involvement

Parental participation in your child’s therapy is invaluable and can significantly improve the outcome and speed of progress. We will teach you the best methods for responding to your child’s anxiety by explaining and role-modeling the skills you will need.  Home assignments are provided each week so you and your child can practice difficult situations.

Children ages 3-12 work together with their parents and the therapist.  Treatment emphasizes parent training to decrease the child’s avoidance of feared situations and to improve the child’s independent functioning

Older children work independently with the therapist to learn anxiety management skills and to overcome avoidance of feared situations.  Parents often join in at the end of a session and are taught how to assist the child in achieving their goals.  Staff can discreetly accompany older children into avoided situations to help them complete exposure practice. 

Children Who Resist Treatment

We recognize that many children and teens do not want to come in to treatment. We strongly encourage you to bring them in despite their protests.  When normal participation in school, day care, or community activities is a challenge, we can start by working with your child at home, and then progress to accompanying the child and parent into these settings to help them overcome their fear.  Anxiety Treatment Center psychologists have long-term relationships with many area schools and counselors, and are often called upon to participate in conferences or IEP sessions.  We also collaborate with other professionals who are involved in your child’s care.

Sometimes parents want to schedule sessions alone with the therapist prior to bringing in their child. Typically we like to first meet with both parent and child, but are happy to accommodate your needs when you feel this is appropriate.

At the Anxiety Treatment Center, our strategies result in stronger, self-confident children who learn to manage their own anxiety.  These skills can be used throughout their lives, and by learning to cope at a young age they reduce their risks of ongoing difficulties.  We have many years of experience helping frightened children learn how to face and overcome their fears.


Globe1 Anxiety and Depression Association of America


  • Testimonials

    My daughter struggles with anxiety and trichotillomania. As her mother, I felt completely helpless and didn’t know where to turn. When my daughter started working with Dr. Schmaus, I quickly noticed a difference in her behavior and her overall anxiety. He helped her build coping strategies that she has been able to use to handle challenges in her everyday life. I am so grateful for the support we all have received at the Anxiety Treatment Center and specifically from Dr. Schmaus.
    Mother of an 8-year old girl
    I had encountered problems with anxiety and depression in the years since becoming a graduate student. My anxiety issues really put my education and career goals at risk and, indeed, threatened to end the pursuit of a career I love. With a lot of diligent work, and the advice and techniques provided by Dr. Schmaus, I am happy to say that I am in the last months of graduate school and am on track to graduate with very high marks from my teachers and instructors. I could not have done this alone and am very appreciative of Dr. Schmaus for all his efforts on my behalf.
    45 Year Old Man
    Working with Dr. Cassiday was a pleasure, she has a very calming and soothing demeanor.  She immediately ‘got’ my child and made him feel as though his feelings and needs were all that was important when actually she was really trying to change his behavior. She was also great with me as a parent, knowing I had my child’s best interest at heart, but showing me different ways to get the same results. I feel very fortunate to have Dr. Cassiday as part of our life!
    Grateful Parent
    Our son has gone from an anxious child who refused to go to school to a confident college sophomore who has the tools to manage his own anxiety.  The psychologists at ATC led us down this path with humor, sensitivity, and positive techniques, teaching us how to support our child and enabling our son to feel like he can confidently control his own symptoms.
    Parent of a College Student
    I had sought help for my phobias, anxiety and related problems for so long that when I started therapy with The Anxiety Treatment Center of Greater Chicago I knew right away that someone finally “got it”.  Their doctors have in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of anxiety, and they effectively applied their knowledge to help guide me from clarification of my problems to management and resolution.  I never left their office without a specific plan on how to move forward.
    Patient Who Had Previously Tried Many Different Therapists
    My children have been able to gain the necessary skills to manage their OCD at times of crisis because of the knowledge, caring, and expertise of Dr. Cassiday.  She was able to guide us through some very difficult times and help give our family the skills (using cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure and response prevention) so that our family could get back to normal. She was always there with us, and she still is.  She is so kind and so gifted in her field!
    Parent of 2 Children with Anxiety Disorders
    I really appreciate how The Anxiety Treatment Center of Greater Chicago has helped me to face my anxiety. When I started treatment, my anxiety was taking over, making simple tasks very difficult.  The doctor diagnosed my specific anxiety disorder and built an individualized plan to help treat it by using exposure therapy and other techniques.  Working with her has given me the confidence to face a situation head-on and overcome its challenges.
    Confident Female Patient
    Dr. Cassiday changed my life.  She took me on “field trips” to wherever was necessary to deal with my OCD triggers. She never hesitated to get down in the trenches with me and teach me new ways to respond. She was truly a partner in my healing.  We laughed a lot together, so what could have felt pretty miserable, actually was often quite fun. And after we extinguished the rituals, we worked on changing my thought patterns.  So now I am less anxious and more productive than ever before in my life, including before I developed OCD.  And the techniques I have learned help me in ALL aspects of my life, not just with the OCD.  I couldn’t be more grateful to her.
    Susan Richman, J.D.Co-founder, Honorary Chair and Board Member, Beyond OCD
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