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Anxiety & Fears

Everyone will worry about stressful things or feel scared when confronting frightening situations. For some children, these feelings are worse than expected, or occur more frequently than they should. Some children may be so anxious that it leads to avoidance of certain situations, or to withdraw from activities they previously enjoyed. We help children overcome their fears and learn to deal with their anxiety in healthy ways.

We Can Help

Not sure about what your child is experiencing? Give us a call: 305-348-0477.

Programs & Services

  • Brave Bunch Summer Program - A week-long intensive group treatment program for children ages 3-10 who have been diagnosed with Selective Mutism or have difficulty speaking in social or school situations with familiar and/or unfamiliar peers and adults. This program is modeled after the Brave Buddies summer treatment program developed by Dr. Steven Kurtz of the Child Mind Institute. For more information, click here, call 305-348-7836 or email TheMINTProgram@gmail.com.
  • Child Anxiety and Phobia Program - Cognitive-behavioral therapy and computer-based attention training programs are used to treat fears related to being separated from parents, sleeping alone, going to school, social situations, or specific objects or events. Treatment programs are available both for children with anxiety disorders and children who experience some anxiety and fears but do not have a diagnosable anxiety disorder.
  • Individual Treatment - Tailored treatment that meets your child or your family’s needs. Call 305-348-0477 or email ccf@fiu.edu for more information.
  • Mental Health Interventions and Technology (MINT) Program - This program offers cognitive-behavioral therapy for childhood anxiety disorders, selective mutism, and OCD. Service options include in-clinic and telehealth treatments (telehealth services use secure videoconferencing to deliver real-time, therapist-led treatment directly to families in their own homes). Call 305-348-7836, or email TheMINTProgram@gmail.com for more information.

  • Psycho-educational Evaluations - Low-cost evaluations for families with children ages 5-18 to help with diagnostic status and educational planning. The evaluation includes diagnostic clinical interview with the parent, rating scales, IQ testing, academic achievement testing and more. Parents receive a detailed report and diagnostic feedback, as well as recommendations for further testing or intervention. For more information, call 305-348-0477.
  • Selective Mutism Program - Individual weekly, intensive, and group-based treatment programs offered for children with Selective Mutism and other anxiety disorders. Using cognitive behavioral therapy, this program targets the difficulties of speaking in social or school situations with familiar and unfamiliar peers and adults. For more information, call 305-348-7836 or email TheMINTProgram@gmail.com.
  • Tics and OCD Program – This program offers individual and group-based behavior therapy for Obsessive Compulsive spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and other related disorders. Using comprehensive cognitive and behavioral therapies, this program helps children better manage their tics or OCD to reduce negative impacts on their lives at home and at school. The two main treatments we offer are exposure with response prevention (ERP) for OCD and Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT). For more information, call 305-348-2509 or email cfw@fiu.edu.
Some of these programs and services may offer research opportunities to help us advance the way we treat child mental health problems. You can choose not to participate in the research opportunities.

Diagnosis Information

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
    One of the most common anxiety disorders in children, kids with GAD have exaggerated worries about any number of topics, from regular events such as a test or doctor’s appointment and day-to-day issues like school performance or health and safety to global issues such as war or natural disasters. Children with GAD may experience trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and other physical symptoms like nausea and headaches.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
    Children with separation anxiety disorder often have trouble spending time away from home or from loved ones such as parents and siblings. They may feel the need to know where loved ones are, and worry about their loved ones getting sick or injured. These anxieties may result in trouble leaving the home, sleeping alone, and attending school.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
    Children with social anxiety disorder worry excessively about being embarrassed in situations with other youth and adults. These concerns may interfere when they try to make friends, go to school and other public places, or attempt performance activities like public speaking, taking tests, or playing sports.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    Though OCD is no longer considered an anxiety disorder under the new DSM-5 diagnostic system, it is most often described as distress due to anxiety and worries about unwanted, intrusive thoughts and images and repetitive actions that must be completed to help reduce discomfort related to these thoughts. Common examples include excessive hand washing, checking for mistakes, and repetitive questions seeking reassurance.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    Traumatic, life-threatening experiences in the course of youths’ lives can often lead to psychological distress and anxiety when children and adolescents are faced with similar or related situations and reminders. Like OCD, PTSD is not classified as an Anxiety Disorder. It is, however, often related to considerable anxiety and excessive concerns about potential dangers in a youth’s surroundings that can limit his or her ability to enjoy and engage in daily activities. 
  • Panic Disorder

    Youth with panic disorder experience panic attacks (with symptoms including intense fear and unease, increased heart rate, trouble breathing, dizziness, trouble breathing, nausea, and other uncomfortable physical sensations) and concerns about these attacks.

  • Agoraphobia
    Adolescents with agoraphobia will come to avoid places where they have experienced a panic attack in the past or generally fear places that may be difficult to leave such as the mall or other crowded places, to school, or to sporting events they used to enjoy. The avoidance of places or situations may come to greatly restrict one’s life.
  • Selective Mutism
    Children with Selective Mutism (SM) may speak comfortably at home and with close family members, but have difficulty speaking in one or more social situations such as school or in public. Like in social anxiety disorder, kids with SM might seem excessively shy, worry about being embarrassed, or seem socially isolated or withdrawn.
  • Specific Phobias
    Specific Phobias are characterized by intense, excessive fear of certain things or situations that have last for at least 6 months, and may be expressed by crying, tantrums, freezing, or clinging. These fears may be especially limiting to the situations and places youth are able to comfortably go.
  • Tourette Syndrome

    Tourette Syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects children, adolescents, and adults. Children with Tourette Syndrome and other tic disorders make sudden, involuntary movements and/or sounds called tics. Common motor tics include: eye blinking, head jerking and facial movements. Common vocal tics include: throat clearing, sniffing and tongue clicking. Tics typically emerge between the ages of 5-7 years, most often with a motor tic of the head and neck region. Tics tend to regularly change and increase in frequency and severity between the ages of 8-12 years.