Therapy for School Anxiety and Refusal in Chicago

Almost everyone has wanted to skip a day of school at some point in their lives. But for some kids, just the thought of school causes severe anxiety. School-based anxiety or outright refusal to attend school can wreak havoc on a family if not just throw a serious wrench in your morning routine. This is a complex emotional issue that up to 5% of children experience in any given school year. Therapy can be a beneficial tool that helps children and parents identify the underlying causes of anxiety surrounding school and develop healthy coping mechanisms that help alleviate stress.

Understanding School Anxiety and Refusal

School-based anxiety and school refusal are much more than a simple lack of interest or desire to be at school. Parents can recognize these issues as something that may warrant professional attention when physical symptoms accompany the psychological distress a child feels when school approaches after a long school break or weekend, while for other students, the worry is evident at bedtime on school days and in the morning as preparation for leaving home begins. 

For some children, loud and violent tantrums may be a regular occurrence. For others, anxiety can make them feel physically ill. These bodily symptoms are very real for the child and can often be tied back to underlying issues that require both professional attention and the loving support of their parents.

Therapy for School Phobia or School-Based Difficulties

More often than not, school-based anxiety or refusal is a symptom of anxiety or depression. Social anxiety is a common trigger of school-related issues because of school’s inherently social nature. Separation from parents and the comfort of their own home and creature comforts can be another trigger of a school-related pattern of avoidance and distress in children. 

A therapist can help parents address these feelings in a safe and accepting environment. In addition to addressing the fundamental issues with school-based anxiety or refusal, therapy can play a key role in developing a re-entry plan that keeps the child feeling safe and secure. Therapy for school-based difficulties is an active approach to resolving the anxiety and stress children associate with the school environment.

Anxiety and school refusal aren’t the only school-based difficulties a child may experience. Some children also struggle with:

  • Keeping their schoolwork organized
  • Staying on top of tasks
  • Paying attention in class
  • Understanding instructions
  • Being disruptive in class
  • Excessive talking
  • Getting along with their peers and/or teachers
  • Completing homework and assignments
  • Feeling bored 

These can all be signs of an underlying issue that may require the professional attention of a therapist. A growing brain often requires more support than a teacher can provide in a classroom filled with children. Counseling is a beneficial tool that helps children overcome school-based challenges and difficulties.

What School-Based Therapy Looks Like at WCG

When a family comes to Wellington Counseling Group for school anxiety, school refusal, or other school-based difficulties, we’ll start with an initial appointment so we can get to know the child and vice versa. 

We want to facilitate an environment where the child feels comfortable discussing their feelings about school, their teachers, their peers, etc., so it’s essential to establish a strong rapport early on. This relationship opens the lines of communication to help us better assess the underlying issues that lead to school-based difficulties and which have unfortunately sustained and deepened them, too.

Over the last decade, Wellington Counseling Group also has built an experienced team of psychologists focused on diagnostic testing and psychological assessment. If our evaluations lead us to conclude that further testing is warranted, we can, therefore, perform formal psychological and neuropsychological evaluations all in-house. From ADHD testing to specialized learning disorder assessments, we can help parents, teachers, and the children themselves understand the mind and cater to its needs through recommendations for appropriate and practical accommodations, and adjustments in school curriculum and environment.

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Consider Wellington Counseling Group for School Anxiety and Refusal in Chicago

If your child is struggling at school or simply refuses to go, know that you are not alone. Many parents experience school-based difficulties with their children at one point or another. Our assessment-driven approach helps families better understand their child in order to provide the necessary support to thrive in an academic setting.

If your child is experiencing school-based anxiety, consider therapy with a child life specialist at Wellington Counseling Group.