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How ACT Can Help Children with Anxiety

ACT for child with anxiety

Anxiety is a natural part of childhood development but can have a devastating impact on a child’s life if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are psychotherapeutic techniques specifically designed to help children manage and cope with anxiety. One such technique is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Today, we’ll discuss how ACT can help children with anxiety.

What is ACT?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy that seeks to provide individuals with the tools they need to live meaningful lives in spite of their difficulties. It works by helping people identify their values based on what truly matters to them and then committing to actions to move them toward those values. This approach helps individuals cultivate psychological flexibility, which allows them to navigate through difficult emotions without getting overwhelmed or stuck in negative thinking patterns.

How Can ACT Help Children With Anxiety?

Children with anxiety often struggle with rumination—the tendency to dwell on negative thoughts and fear the future—which can lead to feelings of helplessness or powerlessness. ACT helps children learn new ways of responding to anxious thoughts, which can reduce their reliance on maladaptive coping strategies like avoidance or rumination. Through ACT, children learn skills such as mindfulness meditation and cognitive defusion that allow them to step back from their anxious thoughts and observe them without judgment. This enables them to gain perspective on their anxieties and better understand how it affects their behavior.

Benefits Of ACT For Children With Anxiety

ACT also teaches children acceptance-based strategies for dealing with difficult emotions like anger, sadness, or guilt. By accepting these uncomfortable feelings instead of avoiding them or trying to push them away, children are able to process the emotion more effectively and move forward in healthier ways. Finally, ACT encourages children to focus on the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. This allows them to become more mindful of their actions in the present moment so they can make decisions that align with their core values.

What Can A Child With Anxiety Expect From ACT?

For a child with anxiety, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can provide psychotherapeutic support and assistance in calming the mind. Through regular psychotherapy sessions with a knowledgeable therapist, your child can learn to identify his or her anxieties and develop strategies to manage them. Unlike traditional forms of counselling which focus on reducing symptoms, ACT takes a long-term approach to help children build skills they can use throughout their lives. With the help of understanding psychotherapists, your child may be able to create a sense of peace and comfort that will last well into adulthood.

How Long Will ACT Take To Work For A Child Suffering/Dealing With Anxiety?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can be a helpful psychotherapy option for a child who is suffering from or dealing with anxiety. It requires both the therapist and the child to commit to regularly scheduled meetings over the course of several weeks or months in order to overcome the difficult emotions they are experiencing. The duration of treatment depends heavily on the individual person, as each child’s issues are vastly different. During this process, a counsellor will guide them toward understanding their behavior and thought patterns, how they react to situations of distress, and how to create lasting change through mindful techniques. ACT aims to help children become more flexible in their thinking while gaining an overall sense of acceptance and contentment during counselling sessions.

How Do I Know If ACT Is The Right Treatment For A Child With Anxiety?

Deciding if ACT is the right therapy for a child with anxiety can be overwhelming. In order to determine if this approach is best for your child, it can be helpful to consult with a therapist skilled in this type of counselling. The therapist can help you and your child identify the specific challenges that are causing the most distress or worry, helping you to decide if ACT psychotherapy is appropriate. Additionally, an experienced psychotherapist can work with you and your child to develop an individualized treatment plan which takes into account their needs whilst also providing evidence-based strategies that have been proven to reduce anxiety symptoms.

The goal of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is not only to reduce symptoms such as anxiety but also to help individuals develop into emotionally healthy adults who are capable of living meaningful lives despite any difficulties they may encounter along the way. By teaching children effective strategies for managing anxiety-inducing thoughts, helping them practice acceptance-based responses towards difficult emotions, and encouraging present-moment awareness, ACT provides invaluable tools for helping children cope constructively with anxiety while still living fulfilling lives according to their core values. If you’re looking for a therapeutic approach explicitly suited for helping your child manage his/her anxiety symptoms better in order to achieve greater mental well-being overall, consider exploring Acceptance & Commitment Therapy as an option today!

If you have any questions or would like to explore further, please book a free, no-charge online appointment with either myself, Josh Zettel, Certified Counsellor, or another Kitchener psychotherapist at CARESPACE. We are happy to listen and are here to help!

Picture of Josh Zettel, BA (Hons), MA, RP (Qualifying) CCC

Josh Zettel, BA (Hons), MA, RP (Qualifying) CCC

Psychotherapist, Clinic Director
Life can be hard at times. Do you feel like you could use some extra support to manage the moments that life can bring? Josh is available to provide a space that offers trust, psychological safety, and evidence-based strategies to help you manage your mental health. If you are experiencing anxiety, depression, burnout, career stress, grief, having difficulties with self-regulation, self-esteem, life transitions, and relationships; Josh is here for you. With a BA Honours in Psychology and Philosophy from Wilfrid Laurier University and an MA in Counselling with a Specialization in Sport and Health Psychology from Adler University in Chicago, Josh brings his strong theoretical background from the fields of counselling and sport psychology to help you understand how the brain and body works, how you can improve self-awareness, and how to develop tools to move forward towards healthier habits both mentally and physically. Josh is a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CSPA) and has earned certificates in Narrative Therapy and as a HeartMath® Certified Practitioner. He incorporates narrative strategies into his counselling approach along with HeartMath techniques and biofeedback technology for client’s looking for support with stress, anxiety, and self-regulation.

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