On February 15, 2023, The Family Action Network (FAN) presented the event, "Understanding and Treating School Anxiety and Refusal," a conversation with Leslie Brankin, Psy.D., and Anna Finis, Psy.D., moderated by Toni Boos, Psy.D. This presentation provided an overview of school anxiety and refusal to help families understand its various presentations, potential causes and functions of refusal behavior, and strategies for supporting youth and young adults in getting to school more consistently. They also discussed how to best partner with schools and community resources to create change.Fan footer graphic

Drs. Brankin, Finis, and Boos are licensed clinical psychologists at Compass Health Center. The discussion covered a range of topics, including:

  1. The relationship between anxiety and school refusal behavior
  2. The various functions of school refusal behavior
  3. The role of the family system as it relates to school anxiety and refusal, including an overview of family accommodation and how to set up plans and systems at home to improve school attendance
  4. Ways families can partner with schools to support youth and young adults with school anxiety and refusal
  5. When to seek out professional mental health support

Dr. Brankin is the Director of the Young Adult Mood and Anxiety Program at Compass Health Center in Northbrook, IL. Her clinical and professional experience has included working in inpatient hospitals, therapeutic day schools, and community mental health centers. Dr. Finis is the Director of Compass Health Center’s Child Mood and Anxiety Program and specializes in individual, family, and group psychotherapy with children and adolescents presenting with a wide range of behavioral, social, and emotional challenges. Dr. Boos is Associate Director of Child Programming at Compass Health Center in Northbrook, IL, and co-creator, with Dr. Finis, of the School Anxiety and School Refusal track there. Dr. Boos oversees this track and trains clinicians in exposure and response prevention.

Watch the full discussion below.


Further Reading:


Brittney Teasdale

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