Psy/410 Separation Anxiety Case Study

University of Phoenix.

Case Study

Current Description

The case study about Julie P. is about an eight year old girl and her struggle with separation anxiety. When Julie went to school she refused to stay unless her mother was with her. This went on for the entire time she was in first grade. When Julie entered into the second grade her teacher refused to let Mrs. P stay in the classroom with Julie, this prompted many absences from Julie. The school filed a truancy claim on Julie and she was required to get counseling along with her family. While in counseling the therapists learned Julie’s separation anxiety began as a result of a few things; being sexual assaulted, her parents divorcing, and her father passing away.  Cognitive behavioral therapy was used on Julie and her mother in order to help Julie overcome her fear of being away from loved ones and to help her mother overcome her self-esteem issues regarding her parenting and caretaker issues.

Predisposing Factors

Predisposition factors that happen in early childhood can lead to a person experiencing separation anxiety disorder (SAD) later in life. A traumatic event such as a divorce or death is one of the main factors that lead to SAD.  Genetic factors such as a parent figure being diagnosed with anxiety or depression can lead a person to developing SAD later on in childhood or adolescence.


DSM IV TR Characteristics

Separation anxiety disorder experiences severe anxiety at the thought of being separated from his or her loved ones. The DSM-IV TR states other characteristics are distress or fear of separation so severe it leads to impaired functioning and quite often is accompanied by psychosomatic symptoms such as stomachaches or headaches (Hansell & Damour, 2008).  A person with separation anxiety disorder might throw fits when forced to go someplace alone, for example school. He or she might not be able to fall asleep on his own or her own.

 Client Behaviors Matching DSM

Julie P. experienced multiple symptoms indicating she had separation anxiety disorder. She had a hard time falling asleep and then once she had fallen asleep she would be woken up with nightmares of her family leaving her. She had unrealistic worries about her mother’s safety and her own safety.  Julie would throw tantrums when her mother tried to get her to ride the bus to school because she was afraid the bus was going to crash. Also, Julie would start to get physically ill at the thought of having to leave her loved ones.

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