Test Anxiety

Advanced Therapeutic Solutions for Anxiety provides therapy and psychoeducational testing for the treatment of Test Anxiety.

Test anxiety is more than just nervousness about a test. Test-anxious students react to evaluative situations with a heightened level of anxiety that triggers the fight or flight response (physiological arousal), interferes with thinking (mental disorganization), and increases tension (muscles tightening). Like test anxiety, sport anxiety can also be experienced similarly.  

The fight-or-flight response triggers the physiological arousal, which can include increased heart rate, shortness of breath, sweating, muscles tightening, digestive/stomach issues, shaking/trembling, feeling faint, and if unchecked, can lead to a panic attack. The physiological arousal is connected to a fear of failure.

Threat cues are prioritized in cognition. When a person experiences a fear of failure and is in fight or flight mode, their mind is focused on the threat. The mental space to focus on the task at hand is overtaken by intrusive thoughts and negative core beliefs (e.g., “I can’t think”, “I’m gonna fail”, “Others are looking at me”, “I’m shaking”, “I can’t write”, “Everyone else is taking the test fine”, “If I don’t pass, I won’t make it”, “If I don’t hurry, I won’t make it”, “I’m running out of time”, "This always happens", "It's never going to change", “It’s not fair”). 

Test-anxious students are more likely to study and prepare -- in fact, their anxiety may cause them to over-prepare; they have a strong desire and motivation to do well. When they don’t perform well, they are left confused, ashamed, and their worries snowball into increased fear for the future. Their feelings of shame and negative experiences with test-taking can build up and chip away at their self confidence. They may choose alternative educational paths as a result, giving up on their desired career. 

Test anxiety has been reported to affect 15-20% (1 of 5-7) of students (Ergene, 2003). Unfortunately, the shame felt by students with test anxiety may deter them from seeking help, even though test anxiety is treatable. At ATS for Anxiety, we use evidence-based anxiety reduction strategies that include a combination of behavioral, cognitive, and skill-focused techniques to yield the most effective results in reducing test anxiety.

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Test Anxiety can also occur with other conditions, such as ADHD or a specific learning disability. You may be entitled to testing accommodations at school and for standardized tests (e.g., ACT, SAT, MCAT, GRE, etc.). To qualify for special accommodations, a psychoeducational testing report needs to be summitted to the testing committee reviewing your application. Click below to learn more. 

Psychoeducational Testing for Accommodations

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Clinical Procedures for Test Anxiety 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

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