Lauren Pellizzi LLC

Specialized OCD & Anxiety Treatment

Anxiety Therapy Red Bank

Areas of Specialty

​​​SPACE Program: Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions

​Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE) is a parent-based approach for treating childhood anxiety that teaches parents how to take a less protective and accommodating stance towards their child's anxiety symptoms in a supportive manner that conveys acceptance of the child's genuine distress along with confidence in the child's ability to cope with anxiety.   This short term treatment (approximately 12 sessions) has shown to be as effective as child-based CBT in reducing childhood anxiety symptoms. SPACE is particularly helpful for children who are unwilling or unmotivated to participate in therapy. 

As a parent, you are not the cause of your child's anxiety, but you can be an important part of the solution.  Children naturally rely on their parents for reassurance and protection. However, while some ways of accommodating a children's fears may lessen their anxiety at the time, they can also prevent the child from learning how to deal with their worries on their own as they get older.  For example, a parent might sleep with a child who has separation anxiety or order for a child at a restaurant when a child has social phobia.

Children with anxiety disorders try to find ways to not experience anxiety, or to make themselves feel better when their anxiety is activated, just as other children do. One way children make themselves feel better is by staying away from situations that makes them anxious. By doing so their anxiety is maintained; they “learn” that the way to feel better is to avoid, which in turn leads to more avoidance.

Children who suffer from anxiety tend to rely on their parents for assistance in avoiding that anxiety. That’s natural. However, for kids with anxiety disorders, this pattern of behavior actually maintains the anxiety. If you are like most other parents of anxious children, you probably find yourself torn between two seemingly opposite poles. On the one hand, you may feel the need to reassure your child and help him or her to experience less anxiety. On the other hand, you may also feel that by reassuring your child or accommodating to the anxiety you are not doing enough to promote the child’s self-sufficiency. 

How can parents help make treatment effective?

Our experience has shown that a few conditions are required for a successful course of treatment:

  • Commitment: As with most things, people tend to get out of therapy what they put into it. Since this intervention is short let’s make it a priority for the next couple of months. Try to avoid cancelling sessions and arrive on time.

  • Presence of both parents: If possible, chose a time in which you can both attend the sessions.

  • Hard work between sessions:  Attending weekly sessions is not enough. Effective treatment requires active steps that are planned together in the session and then implemented at home by you. 

  • Taking independent steps:  When children are overly anxious they may need their parents to take initiative and make changes without their prior approval. Think of your child as having many inner voices; some of the voices represent the anxiety, others represent the child’s ability to cope. By acting independently of what the child is saying right now, you are aligning yourself with the voices for positive change and giving him/her your support. 

Lauren Pellizzi was trained by Dr. Eli Lebowitz of the Yale School of Medicine to provide this therapy in person or via telehealth.  If you are interested in becoming a new client please contact Lauren Pellizzi.