Let’s Go To SPACE | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA

What is SPACE?

Let’s delve into a topic and treatment protocol that is very important but often overlooked or dismissed in child-centered therapy: SPACE treatment. No, we’re not talking about NASA here, but something just as cool. SPACE stands for Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions. The SPACE treatment, developed by Dr. Eli Lebowitz at the Yale Child Study Center, is a turning point for parents facing the complexities of childhood anxiety. SPACE is about empowering you, the parents, to be a strong support system for your child dealing with anxiety. Unlike traditional methods that focus directly on the child, SPACE focuses on the parent’s behavior and how it can be adapted to reduce the child’s anxiety. It’s like equipping yourself with a superpower to raise anxious children!

The investigation

Dr. Lebowitz’s research shows that the way parents respond to their children’s anxiety significantly affects the child’s experience of it. Sometimes, without even realizing it, we may be reinforcing our child’s anxiety. SPACE teaches us to offer support in ways that encourage children to face their fears rather than protect them from them.

Studies have shown that SPACE is incredibly effective. A study conducted by Dr. Lebowitz and his team found that SPACE significantly reduced children’s anxiety symptoms – and get this – it was as effective as direct child therapy! That’s huge, right? It means that by adjusting our (parents’) responses, we can make a real difference in our children’s lives.

Why SPACE?

As a therapist passionate about helping people with OCD and anxiety, I see the impact of anxiety on families every day. SPACE is a breath of fresh air because it recognizes that parents are part of the solution. By changing the way they respond to their children’s anxiety, parents can create a supportive environment that encourages courage and independence.

How does SPACE work?

This unique approach focuses on the role of parents in treating a child’s anxiety and how changing their behavior can help their child. Instead of working directly with the child, SPACE provides parents with strategies to help their children manage anxiety, through changing parental behavior. Incorporating SPACE into daily life involves incremental steps to create change. Parents learn how to provide support to their children, what anxiety is, how to recognize and reduce accommodation, and communication skills to facilitate change.

As a therapist specializing in anxiety and OCD, I see firsthand how critical a supportive environment is for children facing these challenges. SPACE offers a compassionate, evidence-based path for parents. And remember, the goal is not to eradicate anxiety, but to teach our children to control it, encouraging them every step of the way! This approach empowers parents, supports children, and strengthens the family as a whole.

If you are looking to support your child’s journey through anxiety, consider SPACE as a guiding star. It’s all about taking small steps together and sometimes that makes all the difference in the world. So let’s take this approach, equip ourselves with the right tools and remember: we are not just parents; We are our children’s biggest advocates and allies on their journey to overcome anxiety.

Questions…

  • What have you tried to help your child with his anxiety?
  • Have you heard of SPACE treatment?
  • What is one way you have seen your child overcome their anxiety?

This publication is brought to you in collaboration with the ADAA OCD and Related Disorders SIG.More information about GIS.

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