Separation Anxiety in Teens - CBT for Separation Anxiety Disorder in Teens

Written by: Arooj Paulus (Applied Psychology)
Last updated date : January 31, 2023

Everyone has certain fears. Fear of being separated from loved ones might prevail in some people. It is a healthy and significant feeling that warns of possible dangers. However, worry can occasionally grow into an unhealthy reaction. Separation anxiety can be frequently seen in teens. Let’s look into this issue and see how we can deal with it by employing CBT for separation anxiety disorder in teens.

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Chapter 1:

What Is Separation Anxiety in Teens?

Fear separation is a typical stage of early childhood. Between the ages of 8 and 12 months, it often affects children, and typically goes away by age of two years. Teens can also have separation anxiety.

If a teen is unwilling to enroll in a school then it can be due to separation anxiety. Avoiding school might occur after a big shift at school, such as entering junior high or high school. It could also be brought on by anything unrelated to school, including a family death, a divorce, or a disease.

It commonly signals problems with mental health and mood. Research suggests that almost one-third of teens have S.

Chapter 2:

Warning Signs

When teens are away from their parents or other caretakers, SAD symptoms appear. The most typical signs include the following:
  • They are clinging to their parents or loved ones.
  • Excessive concern for the safety of parents or loved ones.
  • They may be extremely sad or upset about the separation. They also may cry.
  • Teens who refuse to go away from parents such as on a trip.
  • They may be leaving golden opportunities. Such as a scholarship in high school in a different city or country.
  • They may become sick upon separation such as fever, vomiting or headache, etc.
  • Show aggression (Both verbal and physical).
  • They may fear sleeping alone and can often report having nightmares when they are not with their loved ones.

Chapter 3:

Causes of SAD in Teens

The following can be the possible risk factors
  • If they have overprotective parents.
  • If they have a shy personality,
  • Teens who have a family history of mental illness.
  • A loss of a family member can also trigger SAD in teens.
  • Moving into a new home or school can increase anxiety as well.

Chapter 4:

CBT for Separation Anxiety Disorder in Teens

The entire family may feel stressed due to fear of separation in teens. Thankfully, there are several ways to treat this in teens, like CBT. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most beneficial form of treatment for SAD in teens. It involves giving different views, challenging thoughts, deep breathing, and relaxation exercises.

What Does It AIM?
CBT aims to transform the negative thoughts into positive ones which also changes the negative feelings and behaviors into more positive ones. By employing CBT for separation anxiety disorder in teens we can effectively teach coping methods. It will help them to change the way they see separations and begin to explore their fears more critically with CBT. Further, it also improves sleeping issues.

How to Practice?
The strength of CBT is that it can be planned according to the client’s level of mental, and social development and presenting problems. Here are some of the strategies of CBT that can be used to treat SAD in teens.

1. Problem Solving
It can involve you to generate alternative solutions to the problem. You may be thinking that the problem of leaving your house or your parents are too much. But remember that there is a solution to every problem. The first step is to find a possible situation. For instance, you are going out for lunch without your parent. In that situation you can come up with alternative solutions such as you can tell them to take care of themselves when they are out. Further, remind yourself that they are just a call away. You can call them anytime you or they each other. Problem-solving can also be used to express your sensitive feelings in teens as they can look for possible options to express their separation anxiety in a prosocial manner.

2. Cognitive Restructuring
Teens, who have negative thinking styles such as what if something terrible happens to my parents in my absence? what if I lose my parent? These thinking styles can cause so much distress in teens with SAD.

  • Identify: You can identify the negative thinking pattern in your sentences such as “What if I lose them” or “What if something terrible happens to me or them”. These thoughts are then examined and challenged.
  • Challenge: Know that our core beliefs lead to what we think and how we see the world. Fearing all the time is not rational. Think again, why are you afraid to separate yourself? Are you thinking rationally?
  • Replace: Once you know the cause and your core beliefs you know that the thought you had is unhealthy. So replace it with a healthy one. Such as “I should give them some of their time as well” or “Think positive have positive”.

Note: Determine the developmental level of the teen is important for implementing cognitive restructuring as you must have developed broader schemas and capacity for self-reflective thoughts.

3. Self-Regulation
CBT can help you to recognize, label, and appropriately express your feelings. For instance, a teen may be able to identify body signs related to feelings such as tightness in the chest and link it with fear. Talking to yourself about your feelings can benefit you by decreasing the intensity of negative feelings. Be aware of what you feel as emotions convey to us in different ways. For instance, fear is a natural emotion that indicates danger. Sit in a quiet and calm place then let your thoughts come and go while acknowledging your feelings.

Note: Your negative thinking can hinder positive thinking and function respectively.

4. Systematic Desensitization
It is a method for reducing the degree of fear in people by slowly putting them in a fearful situation. For instance, teens who have SAD are afraid to leave their parents or loved ones. So they can leave for a few hours first, and then we can increase the duration. This will slowly make them habituate and have comparatively less anxiety when away from parents or loved ones. Though you can always make a call or message to check on them but do not overuse this facility.

5. Deep Breathing
It allows relaxation in teens and children. For instance, you can keep a finger in front of your mouth and imagine it as a candle, hold on to your breath and gently blow the candle. Slowly in and out. Make yourself relax while you breathe in and breath out. Focus on your body and your emotions. You can also practice it in a stressful situation, such as leaving home alone to lessen your stress.

Chapter 5:

Call to Action

Since separation anxiety in teens is linked with social fears, so you can read and learn more about the topic at Epsychonline by reading “Social Phobia and How to Overcome This Anxiety Disorder”.

In addition, you can start a course, “DBT for Social Anxiety” to reduce your social worry and insecurity in your relationship. Also, as low self-esteem is the cause of anxiety in relationships, you can start a course named “Low Self-Esteem” at Epsychonline.

We hope to be a help to you. Join right away!

"Structured and engaging course" Joan

69 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount