All About Separation Anxiety Disorder and How to Overcome it with Psychological Therapy & Counselling
What is Separation Anxiety Disorder?
Separation anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder in which you may experience excessive anxiety when separated from the people or caregivers with whom you have a strong emotional attachment.
John Bowlby, who developed attachment theory, argued that one of the key objectives of early attachment styles is to be able to maintain a safe proximity (distance) to the primary caregiver.
The inability to maintain a safe proximity can be thought as as experiencing a degree of separation.
As young children grow up and learn how to develop autonomy and independence from their caregivers, a certain degree of separation anxiety is perfectly normal and is not a sign of a mental health disorder.
However, because the quality and nature of our early attachments depends on the characteristcs of our caregivers and the contexts in which we all grew up, you can develop attachments styles that involve lots of stress and anxiety.
In adults separation anxiety is generally related to their earlier attachment experiences and is only classified as a disorder when the level of anxiety reaches intolerable levels.
Separation Anxiety Symptoms
Separation anxiety is almost always experienced in relation to the proximity or availability of the primary attachment figure (spouse, partner or parent for example) and frequently involves the following symptoms or behaviours:
- Distress when anticipating or experiencing separation from attachment figures.
- Worrying about losing attachment figures or about possible harm coming to them.
- Worrying about getting lost, being kidnapped, having an accident or becoming ill that could result in separation from an attachment figure.
- Reluctance or refusal to go out, go away from home, to work, or elsewhere because of the fear of separation.
- Fear about being alone or without major attachment figures at home.
- Refusal to sleep away from home or to go to sleep without being near a major attachment figure.
- Nightmares about being or becoming separated.
- Experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach-aches, nausea, etc. when separation from attachment figures occurs or is anticipated.
Diagnosis of Separation Anxiety Disorder
Technically, only a psychiatrist can diagnose separation anxiety disorder, but in the UK general practitioners have tended to diagnose mental health problems by using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
The DSM lists specific symptoms against a range of disorders and whenever a person meets this criteria, they are said to be suffering from that disorder.
Diagnosis does NOT make use of medical testing (for example blood tests) in order to produce a diagnosis, but rather is an opinion based on the observation of certain behaviours in the person who is suffering.
Because of this lack of verifiable medical testing, diagnosis remains a controversial subject, particularly within the psychological community.
However, in the UK access to support services is often contingent on receiving a diagnosis, so in this sense, a formal diagnosis may be useful.
Counselling for Separation Anxiety Disorder
We offer a number of different types of therapy and counselling for Separation Anxiety Disorder and related problems.
Choosing the most suitable therapy depends on a number of different considerations including factors such as:
- How long you have had the problem.
- Your personal preferences.
- How your problem is affecting you today.
You can read more about the different types of therapy for Separation Anxiety Disorder on the following links:
- CBT for Separation Anxiety Disorder
- Counselling for Separation Anxiety Disorder
- Pluralistic Therapy for Separation Anxiety Disorder
Although all therapies use slightly different approaches, the one thing they all have in common is the relationship that is formed between the client and therapist.
Research suggests that this therapy relationship may be the most important factor in achieving a good therapy outcome.
Behaviour Change Framework – BCF
All of our counselling sessions and programmes are enhanced by applying the Behaviour Change Framework (BCF).
This scientifically proven protocol clearly defines the incremental stages of behaviour change that you need to go through in order to achieve long lasting and sustainable change.
Drawn from the Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change (TTM), the framework provides a roadmap that not only gauges the current stage of progression through the change process, but also indicates if more change is required before entering the next phase of therapy or coaching.
In this way, we are able to ensure that you get the best possible level of support in overcoming your problems as well as ensuring that we don’t terminate the change process prematurely.
You can read more about the Science of Change here.
Arrange your FREE initial consultation here.
During this consultation we will discuss your particular issues and the different types of mental health counselling we offer (including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT) without you having to commit to any counselling going forward.
The consultation lasts around 50 minutes and is a great opportunity to meet with either Paul or Joan and decide if you would like to proceed with any support.
Getting a Mental Health Diagnosis
Please be aware that Lee Psychology do not diagnose mental health disorders.
Our psychological counselling services do not require you to have been formally diagnosed but should you wish to obtain a formal mental health diagnosis, then please contact your GP who can arrange it for you.
Separation Anxiety Testimonial I came to see Paul in February 2011, as i was suffering with anxiety, depression and separation anxiety, also had great difficulty sleeping! I can honestly say I had hit the lowest point in my entire life and didn’t know what to do or...
Psychiatry Through the Looking Glass
Read what the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) and the United Nations (U.N.) said recently about the biomedical models of mental illness on Psychology Today.
Applied Psychology Solutions
If you’d like to learn how to overcome Separation anxiety disorder but dislike the idea of having “therapy”, then why not learn how to change the way you make sense of your experiences with the CORE Programme.
If you believe that your problems are the result of what has happened to you and not because there is something wrong with you, then this is the solution you’ve been looking for.
We offer counselling for Separation anxiety disorder problems for people living in:
- West Midlands
- South Staffordshire
You can also access our services around the World using online therapy with Paul.