Separation Anxiety Counselling

It is normal for children to feel distressed when their parents leave their side. Being clingy, throwing temper tantrums, crying etc are common characteristics that every child goes through in their developmental phase. But despite their parents’ best efforts, some children don’t let go of their parents and in such cases, this normal feeling of longing to one’s caregiver can turn into Separation Anxiety Disorder.

What is Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Separation anxiety is a condition when someone is afraid to be away from a particular person or even a pet. Although most times this condition is associated with children, some adults can undergo this disorder as well. While it is common for children to experience separation anxiety and it is a part of their normal state of development, it can be sometimes confusing to figure out if your child is going through just a phase or has a serious emotional problem.

The one factor that differentiates separation anxiety and separation anxiety disorder is the intensity of stress and fear your child may go through. The fear can become too much and overtake your child’s ability to perform naturally in day to day functions. Even the thought of being away from their parents may agitate the child and this stops them from going to school, playing outdoors and engaging in other activities for children of their age.

Separation anxiety is common in children younger than 2 years old because at this point children don’t yet understand that when their parents go away whether they will come back or not. But older children and adults can understand this and if they still show signs of separation anxiety, then they may have a separation anxiety disorder.

How to find a Separation Anxiety Therapist

If you are looking to find the perfect Separation Anxiety therapist it is crucial to make sure that they have the appropriate qualifications, knowledge and experience. At Expat Therapy 4U we only accept therapists who have full professional proficiency in English and are highly experienced in working with people from culturally diverse backgrounds. The clinicians we approve share our values and commitment to provide high quality therapy to the expatriate community in the private sector across Europe and online worldwide. We strongly believe that therapy changes lives, and being accredited ensures all our therapists are qualified to a high standard. You can find a Separation Anxiety therapist who is insured to practice and accredited with a recognised membership body online here.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder

So, how can you differentiate normal separation anxiety from a separation anxiety disorder? Here are a few symptoms of when separation anxiety has taken the form of a disorder:

  • Recurrent and excessive fears about being away from home or a loved one. Showing extreme distress at even the thought of being away.
  • Constant and excessive worry about losing a parent or a loved one in an accident, illness or any other form of disaster.
  • Constantly worrying that something bad is about to happen such as being kidnapped, hurt or permanent separation from parents and loved ones.
  • Nightmares about separation.
  • Refusing to be home alone without the presence of a parent or a caregiver.
  • Frequently showing problematic symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches and temper tantrums when being away from parents.
  • Refusal to go to school and doing almost anything to stay at home.
  • Difficulty sleeping because of the fear of being alone. May even develop insomnia.
  • Clinging to a caregiver such as constantly holding an arm or a leg if you attempt to step out of your house.

What are the causes of Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Separation anxiety occurs because a child feels unsafe in some manner. It could be that they have undergone a traumatic experience, feel threatened or anything else that has thrown their world off-balance.

Some common factors that contribute to the development of separation anxiety disorder include:

  • Changes in the environment such as a new house, school, playground etc can trigger separation anxiety.
  • Undergoing stressful situations such as the divorce of parents, bullying, or loss of a loved one, even the death of a pet can trigger separation anxiety.
  • Having parents that are overprotective and anxious themselves can induce the same behaviours in their children. Having relatives or close blood relations that have anxiety problems may also trigger anxiety in children at a young age.
  • Undergoing abuse and other forms of traumatic events can induce feelings of insecurity and thus children don’t let go of their parents so they feel safe.
  • Having an insecure emotional attachment with a parent can contribute to several personality problems in children, including separation anxiety disorder.
  • Environmental problems such as some form of disaster that involves separation.

Recommended Treatments for Separation Anxiety

Primarily, the best-suited treatment options for Separation Anxiety Disorder include therapeutic interventions. But, there are other treatment options as well.


Psychotherapy can help a person identify their distortive thoughts and behaviours that are making them feel anxious. In some cases, there can be underlying causes that are not directly visible, such as having a mental health disorder or some sort of bullying which a child does not clearly communicate about.

Psychotherapy can help uncover underlying issues and help you better understand your child’s behaviours. Parents are also taught better techniques to reduce their child’s separation anxiety. Therapy can take place in both individual sessions or group therapy sessions.

Support groups

Support groups are also a great choice to get in touch with other people that are going through the same issues. Often such groups have a therapist as a supervisor that guides people when they share their experiences. In this way, you not only get professional guidance but learn from others too at the same time.

Anti-Anxiety medications

Doctors may also temporarily prescribe medications to help a person overcome their erratic thinking. Often, therapy alone is enough, but medications are also an option if your child’s condition is becoming serious.

However, these drugs are not the best long-term solution as they can become addictive and their withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous.

Find a Separation Anxiety Therapist through the Expat Therapy 4U platform

While separation anxiety is common, it can become a proper mental disorder if it exceeds a healthy limit. If you suspect that your child shows problematic patterns more than other children and some of their symptoms match the symptoms described above, then your child may be at a risk for developing a separation anxiety disorder. In such a case, contacting your therapist can help you better understand your child’s behaviour and get the proper help and treatment to reduce separation anxiety.

Further Readings on Separation Anxiety




About Expat Therapy 4U

Expat Therapy 4U is the result of 5 years’ experience running The International Psychology Clinic, the first private therapy service based in London specialized in multilingual and multicultural therapy.

The platform is run by Dr Martina Paglia. Dr Martina is a leading dual qualified Clinical and Counselling psychologist who helps patients by providing bespoke psychological services including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Counselling and Psychotherapy in London and online worldwide.

Our network comprises highly qualified and experienced private therapists who have made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of expats worldwide. All members of our community are highly experienced working in cross-cultural environments.

We are passionate about delivering first-class patient-centred, safe and effective care. If you would like to work with a warm, inclusive, caring and professional English-speaking therapist in Europe or online worldwide you have come to the right place.

If you are looking for the perfect expat Therapist in Europe or online worldwide, our team is dedicated to help you find your best match. We offer a client guarantee where clients can re-book with a different therapist if they are not satisfied with their first therapy session.

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