The SPACE Program: How Parents Can Help a Child Overcome Anxiety

Sunday, April 8: 8:30 AM  - 10:30 AM 
Mezzanine Level 
Room: Hoover 
In recent years, there has been rapidly increasing interest in the construct of family accommodation in anxiety disorders, generating data on the underlying mechanisms, impact on the course of anxiety disorders, and intervention research. Today, family accommodation is considered a key factor impacting child anxiety. Family accommodation of child's anxiety refers to changes that parents make in their own behavior to help their child avoid or alleviate distress related to the anxiety disorder. Although it is intended to reduce anxiety in the short-term, family accommodation is associated with greater symptom severity and impairment.
Supporting these theoretical understandings and empirical findings, novel parent based interventions of child anxiety have shown much promise. The SPACE Program (Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions) is a theory-driven intervention informed by research into parental entanglement in the symptoms of childhood anxiety and by the biology of mammalian parental behavior. SPACE teaches parents to recognize their accommodating behaviors, and to implement specific plans for reducing the accommodation while maintaining an empathic and supportive attitude towards the child. The treatment also includes tools for: Increasing parents' ability to work cooperatively together; Coping with responses to the reduced accommodation, including anger and distress; And for enlisting the support of family and friends in what can sometimes be a difficult process.
This workshop will present attendees with an overview of family accommodation and its associations with child anxiety, and provide an introduction to the SPACE program. Discussion of The Space Program will include a case presentation, role-play simulations of treatment sessions, and a review of the various treatment components.
Clinical trials in anxiety and OCD support the ability of SPACE to reduce family accommodation and children's symptoms. A funded randomized controlled trial is ongoing.

Learning Objectives

1. Participants will be able to demonstrate the importance of addressing family accommodation in treating child anxiety
2. Participants will be able to describe The SPACE Program: a parent-based treatment for child anxiety.
3. Participants will be able implement treatment plans to reduce family accommodation in cases of child anxiety. 


Eli Lebowitz, PhD, Yale University
Yaara Shimshoni, PhD, Yale Child Study Center

Audience Level



Children & Adolescents


Diversity - No


120 minutes



Treatment Approach

Experimental/Emerging Therapeutics