Sample Research Paper on Anxiety Disorders

Counseling Children with Anxiety Problems

Anxiety problems are the most common mental health disorders in children. They are usually connected with persistent and uncontrollable worries over long period of time. Speaking about children experiencing such problems, in is necessary to mention that they usually involve significant distress in such settings, as school, relationships with friends and family life. Such disorders drastically influence children lives as they restrict their ability to be involved in numerous activities, which could potentially be useful for their development (Craske, 1999).

Children are exposed to many types of anxiety problems, but I would like to discuss in details generalized anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, investigate in problems that a clinician can face while accessing children with such disorders, identify special needs of these children and list problems that a clinician can encounter when formulating relationships with children having these disorders.

Generalized anxiety disorders include the following: social phobia and social anxiety, specific phobia (fear of a definite object or a situation), panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, selective mutism and obsessive-compulsive disorder (Carr, 2001).

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Children that have such disorders are usually very much preoccupied with their social success, with what do people around think of them, they try to do everything to get approval of others. They are often uncertain about their actions and words, and they tend to self-criticism. So, they appear to be limited in their development and are not able to enjoy recreational activities and hobbies, which play one of the key roles in mastering person’s personality. Having low self-esteem make them inadequately percept external world.

When assessing children having one of the problems listed, different problems can occur. Symptoms can be different and can change from time to time, as the child grows. Therefore, the clinician should see the child during particular period of time in order to determine the right diagnosis. Then, symptoms of these disorders may look like symptoms of other anxiety disorders. Particular health problems can be reasons for anxiety, for example, cardiac disorders or inner-ear disorders. In such case, a clinician should provide a series of laboratory tests and examinations, then identify what can be bothering to the child, determine treatment and follow whether the anxiety lessened. Children may also have problems when speaking about what is bothering them, about their worries. In such case, a clinician should choose questions and formulate them very delicately and try to speak the “language” of a child, in order to receive full picture of symptoms (Marshall, 2004).

It is important to remember that anxiety disorders may not be immediately recognized by the doctor, as children can hide them or experience their symptoms internally so that evidences of disorders may appear after a period of time.

When accessing children with some phobias, families should also be informed and constantly coached about what they should expect from their child. It can be a great benefit, if a child receives equal family support and understanding.

When formulating therapeutic relationships with such children, a clinician should make a child believe that their disorder was not caused by their personality or flawed attitude, but it is of genetic of environmental origins. The child should understand that his anxiety is not his fault, but he has enough strength in order to help himself to cope with it with doctor’s assistance. A child should trust the doctor, otherwise the relationships will not be established and the child can just “close in his shell” or even provide wrong information.

Speaking about post-traumatic stress disorders of children, I must say that stressful situations affect children both physically and emotionally. Such disorders are appeared to be more dangerous and stressful of children as they include situations where life of people has been threatened or some serous injuries occurred. After experiencing such stress children primarily get confused and it is very important for the surrounding and for the therapist to explain everything to the child in details and to establish the feeling of safety in his mind. Assessment of such cases can be very complicated and therefore ea complex approach should be used- a child should be supported by parents, peers and a specialist in this area (Kleinknecht, 1991).

Children need exclusive care. Each particular case, as well as every child, needs a comprehensive assessment, individual approach that should be based upon stage of the child development, attachment theory, trauma theory, systems theory, dissociation and object relations.

Difficulties in evaluation in this case can be connected with establishment of child safety and determination whether the child is protected from harmful influence and will not harm others. Strict supervision is essential as wee, that is why parent assistance in inevitable during establishment of therapeutic relationship with the child. Problems may also occur while identifying child’s functioning level before the trauma and the present level functioning, defining strengths and problem areas.

Children usually do not initiate investigation in trauma and discussing it with therapist. So, therapist should be very sensitive to the child’s behavior and establish positive, safe and secure relationship with the child. In is also important to remember that the key goal of the child at this stage is to accept what happened adequately without minimizing or exaggerating of the actual event and consequences. Traumatized youngsters and their caregivers generally do not trust others. Explaining the clinical process to the child (what it is and is not; how it works; why it is helpful; the roles of child, therapist, and others; goals and objectives; how we know when a course of treatment is finished) helps the child and family to feel empowered and hopeful and builds trust. (Williams & Sommer Jr., 1994)

So, in the conclusion I would like to summarize that children are very difficult patients to be assessed and treated, and therefore each therapist should be knowledgeable enough about possible problems to occur and be ready to face them. But still, I insist that better treatment is prevention and people should be very attentive to their children, follow possible influences and try to protect from undesired traumas.

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