What is the Mood and Anxiety Program?

The Mood and Anxiety Program is a specialty program within Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine for children and adolescents age 6 to 18 who have:

  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Gender concerns
  • Hair pulling (trichotillomania)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Selective mutism
  • Skin picking (excoriation disorder)
  • Tourette syndrome or a tic disorder

We perform a thorough evaluation to understand your child’s concerns and then work closely with you to provide short-term, evidence-based care.

We do not treat these conditions

How will the Mood and Anxiety Program meet my needs?

Seattle Children’s Mood and Anxiety Program providers assess and treat anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression and many other emotional and behavioral concerns in children and teens.

  • To get a complete picture, we talk with you and your child about symptoms, challenges, strengths and goals. We recommend that all parents or primary caregivers take part in the evaluation. Usually, an evaluation takes two or more visits. Before the first visit, parents fill out a family information form online, and teens and parents fill out questionnaires about behavior. As part of the evaluation, we review your child’s medical, school and other records.

  • A feedback session brings together your expertise in your child and our expertise in anxiety and mood disorders. We share our understanding and work with you to recommend evidence-based treatment options. This might include referrals for care at Seattle Children’s and in the community.

  • Depending on your child’s needs, treatment may involve one or more of these options:

    • Child and teen groups at Seattle Children’s to teach skills for coping with emotions and behavior
    • Parent groups to teach you ways to support and coach your child
    • Short-term individual therapy for your child
    • Involving you in your child’s ongoing treatment
    • Medicine for your child’s condition or adjusting your child’s current medicine
    • Referrals to community resources

    All children and teens seen in the Mood and Anxiety Program take part in an online system to track their progress in treatment.

We do not offer these services

  • Long-term individual therapy or long-term medicine management.
  • In-home therapy. Many community mental health centers provide this service.
  • Parenting evaluations for legal purposes, such as developing parenting plans. Visit the Parenting Evaluation Treatment Program (PETP) Graduates webpage for a list of trained providers in the community.
  • School evaluations after suspension or expulsion. Contact your child’s school for a list of providers who do “return to school” evaluations.

Specialized Treatments and Services

We offer these specialized treatments and services for children and teens with specific concerns.

  • Our anxiety program focuses on group treatment, where we teach children, teens and parents about anxiety and skills to face and overcome fears. Groups for parents are offered at the same time as groups for children and teens. The children and teen groups are separated by age. Our programs are based on well-researched cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions that have proven success.

    Most patients we evaluate take part in our anxiety group program as the first treatment. Some children with severe anxiety may start in individual therapy first and work on building up to group treatment.

    After you and your child complete the group program, we will review progress with you and your child and decide on next steps. This may include individual therapy in our clinic or a referral to a community provider.

  • We evaluate and treat children and teens with obsessive-compulsive disorder (PDF) when our providers have openings for therapy. We provide therapy called exposure and response prevention (ERP), a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy for OCD. Children with moderate-to-severe OCD may also be referred for medicine evaluation. Children and parents dealing with OCD can benefit from taking part in our anxiety group treatment. Some patients with moderate-to-severe OCD who have not been able to make progress in outpatient treatment may be referred to our Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Intensive Outpatient Program (PDF), which offers therapy 3 hours per day, 3 to 4 times a week.

  • We evaluate and treat children and teens with Tourette syndrome and other tic disorders. Our treatment approach is called comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics (CBIT). This approach teaches children how to:

    • Be aware of their tics.
    • Use a different response or behavior to decrease the urges to tic over time.
    • Change the environment in a way that makes tics less likely.

    If your child has severe tics or tics with other disorders, they may see one of our providers who can evaluate whether medicine may help.

  • We evaluate and treat children and teens with depression when our providers have therapy openings. There is strong evidence from research for individual cognitive-behavioral therapy as the first treatment approach for children and teens with depression. Soon after starting therapy, some children and teens with depression may see one of our providers who can evaluate whether medicine may help.

  • DBT is intensive, outpatient cognitive-behavioral therapy for teens age 13 to 17 who:

    • Have ongoing trouble regulating emotions and lack effective coping skills
    • Have had thoughts or plans of suicide (suicidal ideation), made suicide attempts or injured themselves on purpose (called nonsuicidal self-injury), such as by cutting or burning their skin

    Priority for the DBT program is given to teens who are already being treated in our outpatient psychiatry clinics.

    We follow the gold standard for comprehensive DBT outpatient programs, which means:

    • Your child’s DBT therapist takes part in a DBT consult team that meets weekly.
    • Your child has individual weekly DBT therapy.
    • We hold skills groups weekly for teens and their parents.
    • Between weekly sessions, we provide coaching by phone for teens and parents to help you apply skills during challenging times.

    Read more about DBT (PDF).

  • CAMS is a treatment for children and teens who have thoughts or plans of suicide (suicidal ideation). In CAMS, the therapist and child work together closely to understand and reduce the child’s suicide risk. CAMS is a brief, focused treatment. Usually, it lasts up to 8 sessions until the child’s risk of suicide has decreased significantly. Then we refer the child to a provider in our clinic or in the community for any other treatment they need.

    Read more about CAMS (PDF).

  • We evaluate and treat children and teens with eating disorders when our providers have openings for therapy. We mainly see children with anorexia nervosa, and we provide treatment along with medical providers from Adolescent Medicine and Nutrition to ensure your child gets coordinated care. We offer individual cognitive-behavioral therapy and two skills groups for youth in recovery from their eating disorder.

Who’s on the team?

The Mood and Anxiety Program team is led by Drs. Elizabeth McCauley, Kathy Melman and Carol Rockhill and includes psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health therapists and psychiatric nurse practitioners who work together closely to understand your child’s needs and put in place a treatment plan that matches them.

Meet your team.

Contact Us

The Mood and Anxiety Program often has more requests from new patients than we have open appointments.

The clinic does not have availability at this time, with the exception of:

Have Insurance Questions?

  • Some insurance plans have Seattle Children’s as an in-network provider for medical services and an out-of-network provider for mental health services.
  • Even if your plan offers an out-of-network benefit, we are not accepting new patients for our mental health services if their insurance does not include Seattle Children’s as an in-network provider.
  • Learn about mental health insurance coverage at Seattle Children’s.

Have Billing Questions?

Seattle Children’s bills a facility charge (PDF) for hospital-based clinic visits. Learn more about your bill.