"I'm not going to school today!"
Since day one of my time working with children and adolescents over 4 years ago, I began dealing with an issue that baffles many parents – school refusal and avoidance. Many people do not know that clinicians often deal with this issue and that it is more prevalent in our area than you would guess. When a kid feels unable to go to school and they refuse to attend, parents are often left scrambling to find solutions and resources. The single most important step towards helping a child return to school is to receive emotional and psychological support at the earliest signs of difficulty. The earlier the intervention, the better the odds are of getting the student back into the classroom without having to enter more intensive treatment outside of the outpatient setting. Higher levels of care usually include a partial hospitalization program (PHP) or an intensive outpatient program (IOP). This level of care uses group therapy and individual counseling to help a patient quickly build skills to return to school. Outpatient care is less intensive and involves one-on-one counseling to help the student manage school and social anxiety.
How the home environment is managed and manipulated during school refusal issues is crucial. Parents are given the difficult task of being empathetic and supportive, while still pushing their child to push past their comfort zone. Sometimes this includes making home less comfortable and enticing – which can feel counterintuitive if home is where your child feels safest. A therapist with experience in school refusal and family issues can help navigate this delicate balancing act. It is important that the family get the support that it needs to help the struggling child or adolescent be successful, and parent consultations with your therapist can be a valuable tool.
If you find your student avoiding school, reach out for help. At LouCouPsych, we have years of experience in this area and have been able to successfully help parents and their children navigate through the stress. Throughout the crisis, our counselors can help families identify the main stressors that are causing the refusal, learn coping skills to manage anxiety, stress, and depression, coordinate care with school staff, and successfully re-enter the classroom. To learn more about how we can support you and your family during the early stages of school refusal and anxiety, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.