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July 27, 2016

Intensive Outpatient Treatments for Kids & Teens with Anxiety

students communicating and laughing at schoolAnxiety problems are the most common mental health conditions diagnosed in children and teens.  The sad part is, that as many as 80 % of the kids do not get treatment.  Anxiety is however very treatable and clinicians increasingly use an intensive modality called IOP – Intensive Outpatient Program to get expected results in a time effective manner.

Generally, psychotherapy and CBT – cognitive behavioral therapy are highly effective treatments for anxiety problems.  The drawback is, that when a child or teen comes for treatment only once a week, it may take several months to see any results and sometimes results will be elusive entirely, because there may be too many distractors during the week, the child may be able to re-engage in their anxiety rituals in between sessions, and parents may not know how to deal with their child’s continued anxiety during this treatment phase.  Clinicians have recognized that the intensive treatments of IOP, will speed up the treatment process and the child and the family will get tangible help sooner.

In IOP a child and the family participate in sessions that last several hours, several times a week for 6-12 weeks, depending on the length and severity of the problem.  This allows for a child to receive integrative treatments, including CBT, play therapy, self-regulation therapy, and a plan that helps both the child and the parents to understand and change behaviors that maintain the anxiety and associated avoidance.

IOP treatment also has the advantage that the child and the family has the time to adjust techniques to their family circumstances, practice, adjust and practice some more, until new behaviors are integrated. The viscous cycle of anxiety triggers, avoidant behavior, and increased anxiety is not only broken but new behaviors and new habits have been formed and integrated.  This represents lasting treatment success.

IOP treatments are particularly helpful for kids and teens who have made little or no progress in weekly treatments.  Reasons, why a child’s previous treatment efforts may have failed, can range from not having had enough time to practice new skills, to not having the entire family included in the treatment effort, to not having had the time to address the underlying fears and powerlessness.  There may be other reasons for unsuccessful treatment outcomes, but IOP treatments have a much greater chance to address the many aspects of anxiety, how it has affected the young patient, and how it has often crippled the entire family.

Please contact Dr. Stehle about Health Psychology’s IOP – Intensive Outpatient Programs for kids and teens.  Health Psychology Sacramento has been providing intensive treatments for over 15 years and have been recognized by the community as leaders in their field.


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