School Refusal

The School Refusal Program is a specific treatment program for children and adolescents who are having trouble attending school. Many children and adolescents who are struggling to attend school are experiencing mood and anxiety symptoms. Typical school refusal/avoidance behaviors include physical complaints (stomach aches, headaches, fatigue, soreness), temper tantrums, crying spells, panic attacks, and emotional outbursts when leaving the home and/or arriving at school. Oftentimes, the child feels better when they are allowed to stay home, but their symptoms typically reappear the next day. Some children with school refusal may attend school but avoid their classroom throughout the day by taking extended bathroom breaks, frequently requesting to visit the nurse’s office, or showing up tardy to classes. School refusal behaviors are often misunderstood as being defiant, however, children experiencing school refusal/avoidance are deeply distressed by school and need support to overcome their fears related to school.

The goal of the School Refusal Program is to help children learn and utilize effective coping skills, in order to manage their mood and anxiety symptoms and school refusal behaviors. This way, children can successfully attend and engage in school.

Primary Strategies

  • Assessment and Medication Management (Psychiatrist or Nurse Practitioner)
  • Cognitive Therapy (CT)
  • Exposure and Response Prevention (E/RP)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT; Crisis management, interpersonal navigation, and emotion
    regulation)
  • Problem Solving Therapy (PST)
  • Behavioral Activation (BA)
  • Mindfulness Based Strategies
  • Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Creative Expression

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