What is SPACE?
Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions is a short-term (8 sessions) intervention to help children overcome problematic anxiety. Eli Lebowitz, Ph.D. from the Child Study Center at Yale University founded the SPACE program, and research has since been conducted demonstrating the program's effectiveness. PPA's own Drs. Samantha Carella, Judith Migoya, Elizabeth Penela, Amrita Singh and Danielle Stier are among a select group of clinicians who have completed the intensive SPACE Training program and are now able to offer its benefits to our South Florida community. Our team of SPACE-trained psychologists will be providing these specialized intervention services at our offices in Aventura and Weston.
Young children are born with an instinct to seek comfort and safety from their parents as a means of survival, just as parents have a natural inclination to protect their young. Given the nature of the relationship between parent and child, when a child is anxious, a parent’s most natural recourse is to try to alleviate the child’s anxiety. Over time, many children internalize their parents’ encouragement and support. As a result, they learn to self-soothe and to help themselves in moments of anxiety/discomfort as they get older. However, there are children that become overly dependent on parental reassurance and accommodation without developing a sense of self-efficacy, and not learning that anxiety, while at times very uncomfortable, can be managed. The goal of the SPACE program is, therefore, to increase children’s ability to cope with anxiety, and this is accomplished by modifying parents’ involvement in this dynamic. As parents reduce accommodations while providing support, children are able to grow stronger and more confident in their ability to manage their feelings.
How to Make Treatment Effective?
Success in the SPACE program relies exclusively on parental involvement. Our experience has shown that a few conditions are required to achieve maximal gains:
- Commitment- As with most things, people tend to get out of therapy what they put into it. It is important to make the treatment a priority for the next couple of months. Try to avoid cancelling sessions and arrive on time.
- Presence of both parents/caregivers- If possible, choose a time in which both parents can attend to maximize results.
- Hard work between the sessions- Attending weekly sessions is not enough. Effective treatment requires active steps that are planned together in the session and then implemented at home by you.