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guidance counselor or school psychologist) is unable to solicit this key clinical information, then an individual or family therapist should be obtained to conduct a more formal and elaborate evaluation.
Step 2: Craft a Personally-Tailored Plan of Cognitive and Behavioral Interventions A student’s anxious-avoidant pattern is driven by cognitive, physiological, and behavioral content.
Perhaps the student has developed an intense fear of being embarrassed or negatively perceived by teachers/peers, or fears being blindsided by a panic attack at the most inopportune time?
Performance anxiety in the classroom or bullying anxiety in the hallways are some of the many additional sources of stress that might escalate into a school avoidance or refusal problem.
A heightened degree of prescheduled daily structure can be paired with this basic mantra.
Busyness is one of the best weapons against anxiety, so the anxious-avoidant student should be assisted in designing a morning routine of predictable and consistent structure (e.g.
Step 1: Determine the function or “source” of the school anxiety-avoidance. For instance, when a student stops attending school, there are many possible (sometimes multiple) causes.“Now that I’m trembling with anxiety, today is definitely not going to go well! Hence, the treatment plan must include cognitive, behavioral, and physiological strategies that are fitted to the student’s individual vulnerabilities, strengths and preferences.Step 2a: Cognitive Interventions Anxious and self-destructive thought patterns must be targeted, reality-checked, and reframed.I often instruct students to tell themselves (during high-anxiety episodes), “I’m having a negative thought right now. It is not a fact or a reality.” I also promote mantras of mindful thinking - “I’m going to imagine putting this distressing thought on a leaf and watch it float down the stream (and out of mind).” In more serious cases, this cognitive restructuring process requires myriad solutions and skills-training.For instance, basic reality-testing strategies involve saying to the anxious-avoidant student, “Is there any good evidence that supports your assumption that your teachers and peers perceive you negatively?