Anxiety Intensive Outpatient Program
What is the Anxiety Intensive Outpatient Program?
Our program helps patients with anxiety disorders who need support in addition to their weekly therapy and/or have anxiety to such a degree that they are at risk for hospitalization. Patients attend therapy 3 hours per day, 4 times a week. We treat patients up to age 18 who have anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety/worry, social anxiety, specific phobias and school avoidance.
We use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help your child face their fears and handle situations that cause them anxiety. Research shows CBT is very effective in reducing anxiety and its effects on the lives of patients and their families. Parents and caregivers are an important part of our program and are involved in each session. We teach you how to help your child practice being exposed to and responding to experiences that cause anxiety.
This program provides a higher level of care within our stepped care program. Most patients attend our Anxiety Intensive Outpatient Program for 8 to 12 weeks. The program meets via telehealth or at Seattle Children's North Clinic in Everett, Washington.
Who can this program help?
We help children and teens with anxiety who fit one or more of the following criteria:
- Have a current outpatient therapist and have tried individual or outpatient therapy 1 to 2 times a week for at least 10 sessions but have been unable to make significant progress.
- Have severe symptoms or are at risk of needing treatment in a hospital or psychiatric residential facility.
- Have been in an inpatient psychiatric unit or psychiatric residential facility and need additional treatment that is more intensive than routine outpatient treatment or are at risk of being hospitalized again.
How will this program help my family?
Experts in our Mood and Anxiety Program will treat your child. We are very experienced at diagnosing and treating children and teens with anxiety disorders using these approaches:
We provide cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for children and teens with anxiety. Our main focus is exposure to help your child face their fears. During therapy, we expose your child to the thoughts or situations that cause them anxiety.
We teach youth and families how to approach rather than avoid anxiety-provoking situations. This helps your child learn that the things they fear are less likely to happen than they first thought. This can improve how they handle difficult or stressful situations.
Research shows that exposure therapy is the most successful treatment for anxiety disorders. It may be effective when combined with medicine for a limited time.
Care tailored to your child
You and your child will attend group sessions to learn skills to manage anxiety. For part of the time you will be in a group with 6 kids and their parents. Together, we review exposure homework and strategies for kids and parents to use to treat anxiety.
Part of each day is also spent working one on one with a therapist who will help your child through that day’s exposure practice.
If needed, we will recommend that you meet with our psychiatrist or advanced nurse practitioner about your child’s medicine.
After your child completes the program, they return to their current community mental health providers for continued treatment or follow-up, as needed.
Partnering with families
Parents and caregivers are important members of the care team. A parent or caregiver attends each session. In weekly group sessions, parents and caregivers learn how to practice exposures and reduce accommodation (changing life to avoid anxiety) at home.
Experts in kids and teens
Our care team is specially trained in how to diagnose and treat children and teens. Kids don’t react to anxiety and medicine in the same way as adults. They need — and deserve — care designed just for them. Our experts are focused on how today’s treatment will affect your child as they develop and become an adult.
How to Get Services
To see if our Anxiety Intensive Outpatient Program is right for your child:
- Ask your child’s primary care provider or current individual therapist to refer you for services. If your child is a current patient at Seattle Children’s, ask their provider for a referral to the Anxiety Intensive Outpatient Program.
- Once we receive a referral from your provider, we will review the referral details to make sure we are a good fit and contact you to set up an initial assessment.
- The assessment takes place over 2 meetings. This helps us confirm your child’s diagnosis and decide together, with you and your family, if this program is the best fit. If a different program would work better for your child, we will discuss other options.
- If the program is a good fit for your child, our insurance department will work to get preauthorization from your insurance company. Most insurance plans cover the treatment, but many require authorization before your child starts. See answers to common questions about mental health coverage.
If you already have an appointment, read about what to expect and how to prepare.
Who's on the team?
Providers in our program include:
Mental health therapists
Becky Rasmussen, MHTA
The Anxiety Intensive Outpatient Program is part of Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine. See more resources for mental health.
Community providers and caregivers may contact the Anxiety Intensive Outpatient Program at 206-987-2164, option 2. If you would like an appointment, ask your child’s primary care provider or therapist for a referral.
Providers: See how to refer a patient.
Paying for Care
Learn about paying for care at Seattle Children’s, including insurance coverage, billing and financial assistance.
In a Crisis?
If your child or family needs help right away, call your mental health crisis line or text HOME to 741741.
- Washington state: mental health crisis numbers by county
- Alaska: Careline, 877-266-4357
- Idaho: The Crisis Hotline, 208-788-3596
- Montana: Suicide and Crisis Hotlines
- Anywhere in the U.S.: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- If you or a family member has a problem with a substance use disorder, please consider calling SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 800-662-4357