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


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    Susan Richman, J.D., Co-founder, Honorary Chair and Board Member, Beyond OCD

    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 Continue Reading

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