School anxiety treatment in metro Washington, D.C.

A fear of going to school can not only be very stressful for a child, but also for his or her parents. Dominion Hospital's School Refusal Program is rooted in a model of individualized, clinically-driven and evidenced-based care. Our multidisciplinary team will work with you and your child to develop a personalized plan of care designed to address and treat specific symptoms that result in their school phobia.

If you think your child may have school anxiety, contact our First Step counselors at (703) 538-2872 for a free, confidential assessment.

School avoidance affects approximately five percent of children annually. Kids may refuse to go school for many reasons, including:

  • To avoid social situations with peers, such as bullying or a conflict with a friend
  • Anxiety or embarrassment from not understanding their coursework
  • Fear of a negative evaluation from a teacher or other educator
  • Not wanting to be separated from parents or caregivers
  • To avoid school-based stimuli
  • As a means to pursue tangible rewards

Symptoms of school anxiety

Every child is different, but common signs a kid has a fear of going school include:

  • Physical symptoms before or during school
  • Complaining of a physical issue that resolves when they're allowed to stay at home
  • Inconsistency with school attendance
  • Panic attacks or crying spells

How we help a child who has a fear of school

The primary goal of our School Refusal Program is to reintroduce a child to the academic setting, achieve full-time attendance with minimal distress and help parents learn how to help a child with anxiety about school.

Whether it manifests as obsessive compulsive disorder, or the development of new phobias we help ease children into going back into school by:

  • Developing school and anxiety-based coping skills
  • Building social skills
  • Decreasing social anxiety
  • Changing negative thinking patterns
  • Improving executive functioning skills
  • Teaching parents to address noncompliant behaviors
  • Empowering parents to better support their child or children
  • Reducing family conflict
  • Increasing rewards for going to school
  • Decreasing rewards for missing school

Our school avoidance curriculum is available through our children's behavioral health and adolescent/teen behavioral health programs. The School Refusal Program involves:

  • Parent training
  • Mindfulness
  • Exposure therapy
  • Psychoeducation
  • Therapeutic homework and logbooks
  • Alternative therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) skills training
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) skills training

We help ease children into going back into school by:

  • Developing school and anxiety-based coping skills
  • Building social skills
  • Decreasing social anxiety
  • Changing negative thinking patterns
  • Teaching parents to address noncompliant behaviors
  • Empowering parents to better support their child or children
  • Reducing family conflict
  • Increasing rewards for going to school
  • Decreasing rewards for missing school

Choices Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Our Choices IOP offers a Back-to-School Training Camp to help children and teens develop critical skills for managing symptoms of anxiety and depression related to school. This training camp also aims to improve communication at home.

School Refusal Program locations

Our program is offered at two convenient locations:

Falls Church: 6565 Arlington Blvd, Suite 506, Falls Church, VA 22042

Chantilly: 14501 George Carter Way, Suite 109, Chantilly, VA 20151