Separation Anxiety Disorder

Advanced Therapeutic Solutions for Anxiety provides therapy for the treatment of Separation Anxiety Disorder.

Separation Anxiety Disorder is an excessive fear or anxiety of being separated from a significant attachment figure. The fear is beyond what would be expected for the individual’s developmental level, and it can occur in all ages. Many think of separation anxiety as only happening with young children. That’s because separation anxiety is common and occurs in most children between 18 months and 3 years of age, and developmentally resolves with time. However, separation anxiety becomes a disorder when it does not developmentally resolve as expected in children. In adolescents or adults, separation anxiety can be triggered by a stressful event, such as divorce, a death in the family, changing schools, or moving away from home. Children and adolescents with separation anxiety disorder may be experienced as demanding, intrusive, and in need of constant attention. Adults with separation anxiety disorder may be experienced as overly dependent and overprotective.

Symptoms may include:

  • Recurrent excessive distress when separated from a major attachment figure or when away from home
  • Just thinking about and anticipating the separation causes excessive distress
  • Persistent and excessive worry about harm coming to the major attachment figure (illness, injury, catastrophe, death) or coming to them (getting lost, kidnapped, having an accident, becoming ill) that will prevent them from being reunited with the major attachment figure

As a result of the fear, a person with separation anxiety disorder may:

  • Avoid leaving the house by themselves; refuse to go to school, work, or elsewhere because of fear of separation
  • Follow or “shadow” the major attachment figure around the house, showing reluctance to be alone (e.g., won’t go upstairs without a family member, won’t go to another room in the house by themselves, won’t sleep alone, won’t sleep away from home, etc.)
  • Seek excessive reassurance from the attachment figure that they are not going to leave (checking to see if the attachment figure is still there, waking up to check if attachment figure is still sleeping nearby, asking excessively if the attachment figure is going to leave, etc.)
  • Have nightmares about their fears of separation
  • Have physical symptoms when separated or with the anticipation of being seperated (headaches, stomachaches, nausea, vomiting); in adolescents and adults, cardiovascular symptoms can occur (e.g., heart palpitations, dizziness, feeling faint)

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Clinical Procedures for Separation Anxiety Disorder Evaluation and Outpatient Treatment

Free Phone Intake Consultation

Up to 30-min phone consultation so we can hear about your presenting issue, the symptoms you are experiencing, when they started, the severity of symptoms, and if we are the appropriate place for your treatment. The diagnostic intake process is discussed, and your insurance/billing questions are answered. If the treatment you need is within our scope of services, we begin the scheduling process. If it is deemed that we are not the appropriate place, we will provide you with referrals and resources to help you. We want to make sure to connect you with services, and that includes helping you find treatment elsewhere if that's what you need.



Diagnostic Evaluation

A 90-min diagnostic interview is conducted to assess the presenting problem, symptoms severity (onset, duration, frequency), review areas of life that have been impacted (daily functioning, work, home), collect history, including family history of anxiety or depression, and review what you hope to gain from treatment at ATSA. Specific questions and or measures may be administered during the session for diagnostic purposes.

Starting at 295

CPT CODE: 90791

Treatment Planning Session

A 60-min session to review how the first sessions have felt to you, present hypotheses, and collaborate on a treatment plan. Treatment approaches may include Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Treatment dose is also discussed, specifically if weekly 60-min outpatient sessions will be effective, or if intensive doses (e.g., 3-hr sessions) should be considered. Likewise, location of where sessions should occur for most effective outcome is also discussed and planned out. Decisions are made as to whether to start with therapy sessions only, allowing for the future addition of psychopharmacological treatment as an adjunct, or whether to start with combined treatment, (or in rare cases to start with psychopharmacological treatment before CBT, ACT, or ERP). 

Starting at 175

CPT CODE: 90837

Exposure Clinic Session

60 min exposure sessions to present you with the phobic stimulus and begin the process of fear extinction. The key to exposure therapy is to activate new learning, which is done by presenting the phobic stimulus, and assisting you to approach (vs avoid) the stimulus, using a hierarchical approach. With repeated exposures, you gain distress tolerance and fear extinction. Additional therapies (e.g., ACT, CBT) may be applied to keep you focused and motivated in preparation for exposures, particularly when exposures become more challenging as we move up the hierarchy. When possible, family members will be included to learn how to facilitate approach coping and reduce enabling avoidance. Our data show that when family members learn how to support you, you are more likely to maintain your treatment gains.

Starting at 175

CPT CODE: 90837

Exposure Therapy in Home or Community Settings

60-min exposure sessions provided in the home or community setting to help transfer treatment gains into these domains. To increase transfer of treatment gains, reduce avoidance of the phobia across settings, and reduce others rescuing you from approaching your phobia (to rescue you from distress), in-vivo and in-situ exposure therapy is most effective. Not only will you develop distress tolerance, new learning, and fear extinction, so will others in these settings, which helps them reduce rescuing and enabling. Home visits are used to help you use skills at home, and Community sessions provide exposure practice in new settings.

Starting at 185 + travel

CPT CODE: 90837

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