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School Refusal

The Program  |  FAQs

School refusal is defined as refusal to attend classes or difficulty remaining in school for an entire day without a support person present. Children often refuse school due to strong feelings of anxiety, such as fears of separating from their parents or caregivers.

Depending on the history of the child’s problems with school, the School Refusal Program may begin with an initial evaluation of the child's school records by an educational consultant and clinical social worker or psychologist, as well as a consultation with the child's school. Next, a clinical psychologist interviews the child and parents in order to determine the nature of the child's problems. The team reviews all of the information together in order to determine whether the School Refusal Program would be appropriate.

Treatment is tailored to match the child's specific needs, with the immediate goal of returning the child to school as quickly as possible. Depending on the child's concerns, treatment may involve gradual exposure to feared situations, skills training, anxiety management training, or helping parents with limit setting and rule enforcement. The treatment team will work closely with school personnel to assist them in providing an appropriate educational plan and transition for the child. By the beginning of the second week, it is expected that the child will begin to attend school at least part time.

The School Refusal Program at the Anxiety Disorders Center/Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an intensive treatment program that includes 15 sessions of CBT, delivered five days per week for three weeks. Each session lasts 1.5 to 2 hours. CBT is provided individually or with the child's parents or guardians.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is this an inpatient, partial hospital, or residential program?
A: The Accelerated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program at the Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a specialized intensive therapy program that does not fit into any of these categories. Clients do not stay overnight at The Institute of Living. Each visit lasts from 1.5-2 hours and clients are expected to spend additional time during the day completing homework exercises on their own. Those who live outside the Hartford area may choose to stay in a local hotel (our center can help those from out of town locate an appropriate hotel).

Q: Is this service covered by my insurance plan?
A: Please be advised that most insurance plans do not pay for the Accelerated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program and our staff members are not contracted with any insurance companies to provide this service. Therefore, the client will be responsible for all costs. We will provide you with an invoice and you are free to seek reimbursement from your insurance company if you wish. Clients who wish to use their insurance plans may receive weekly treatment through our outpatient clinic.

Q: Does “accelerated" or "intensive" cognitive behavioral therapy mean that this treatment is harder than regular treatment?
A: Not necessarily. The words “accelerated" or "intensive" cognitive behavioral therapy mean that treatment is delivered more frequently than the typical weekly schedule. This allows you to receive immediate feedback and support from your therapist about your exposure homework exercises. Therefore, Accelerated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is more focused and possibly more effective, but is not necessarily more difficult than weekly treatment.

Q: What is the cost?
A: Costs for the Accelerated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program for School Refusal are $6,250 with a licensed psychologist and $3,500 with a postdoctoral fellow*. These costs do not include the initial evaluation.

* Postdoctoral fellows are clinicians that have their Ph.D., but are not licensed. The postdoctoral fellowship is a 2 year training program in which fellows receive specialized supervised training in Anxiety Disorders and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy prior to taking their licensing examination

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Anxiety Disorders Center