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School-Based Interventions : General Anxiety and Panic
Interventions for Emotionality

  1. Provide specific steps the student can take to relax, or provide a relaxation ritual

    Take three deep breaths; tense fingers or toes for five seconds, then relax.
  2. Provide alternative foci to distract the student from somatic symptoms

    If the student complains of a recurrent headache without medical etiology, provide the student a phrase to think of or an activity (doing three problems then standing up, 10 problems then walking to the fountain). Have the student hold a stress ball and practice squeezing and relaxing his/her arm while breathing in and out at an even pace.

Specialized Instruction:

  • Have the student identify antecedents/precipitants to anxiety

    Have the student identify what preceded or led to emotionality when it occurred, look for what leads to escalations, and then identify how he/she can avoid exposure to that precipitant and/or steps to slow escalations, such as distracting him/herself with another task, talking to other students, or waiting two minutes before accessing the teacher.
  • Help the student address stressors through art activities

    Ask the student to draw a picture of what stress or fear looks like to him/her and suggest various coping strategies, then draw pictures of solutions so the student can "visualize" enacting the solution.
  • Help the student devise and practice problem skills

    Practice steps to decide how "dangerous" the current situation is, what resources are available (staff, book, music to distract), and what is most likely to help quickly ("If look at a book, I'll stop noticing my sweaty hands"). Ask the student to describe/draw a picture of what serenity and calm look like to him/her and suggest actions to achieve calmness (look at the sky, hum a song silently, or touch a soft felt strip in his/her desk).
  • Design and post visuals for the student to review and use when solving a problem

    Create a simple pictoral diagram of problem solving steps ("what is the problem? what are some solutions? what should I do? give it a try!") For additional examples, click here:   top

Behavioral Planning:

  • Identify a hierarchy of safe places for the student to de-escalate emotionality symptoms

    Stay at his/her desk; move to another part of the classroom; go to the edge or outside of class; go to a designated room (other classroom, library, office). Reward the student's use of lower level places, and more time staying on task, by allowing the student to eat with a peer or help the teacher with a special task. top
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