Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Kathy Hoff


Pat Truhn


Separation anxiety disorder is a condition in which a child or adolescent

experiences severe anxiety when separation from a parent or caregiver is imminent. A

possible symptom of separation anxiety disorder or other psychological conditions is that

the child may refuse to attend school or run away from school during the day, an

occurrence commonly referred to as school refusal. Children with separation anxiety

disorder or school refusal may, as a result, be limited in their social and educational

opportunities. Therefore, a review of published studies on the treatment of separation

anxiety disorder and school refusal was completed. To adequately manage these disorders,

proper assessment and treatment are key. Common assessment strategies include various

self-report instruments and functional assessment. Despite the obstacles and challenges

associated with separation anxiety disorder and school refusal, very few empirical studies

have examined treatments for these conditions. Cognitive-behavioral treatments for

school refusal and separation anxiety disorder, however, have been supported by the

research, though the efficacy of such strategies may be influenced by the acceptability of

the treatment to families and teachers and by the integrity with which treatment methods

are implemented. Psychopharmacological approaches, however, have not been validated

empirically. More research on both treatment strategies is necessary to confirm current

findings. The implications of the present research on the practice of school psychologists

is considered.

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