Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Kathy Hoff


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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