Helping kids, teens, college students and parents connect with the best counseling resources in St. Louis.
When your child experiences OCD or severe anxiety, you want to find a therapist who specializes in it, not just one that works with it every now and then. In St. Louis, Angela Adamson, LCSW, ACT is a fellow anxiety specialist who focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy.
I’m so excited to have interviewed her, and you’ll find some thoughtful answers below!
Why did you choose to become a child therapist in St. Louis?
I see how much anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) impact and significantly disrupt the lives of kids, teens and their parents. There are some surprisingly basic skills and education about how anxiety works that can change lives, especially when you learn them early. I did not learn these tools until I was 22 years old- things would have been much easier if I had been taught this as a kid! I am passionate about making sure as many kids as possible in St. Louis learn these skills so they can prevent the tangled web that can get developed over years of untreated and misunderstood anxiety.
What kind of treatment do you provide?
I provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which is a fancy way of saying that I help people understand how their thoughts and behaviors contribute to their anxiety and how they can change this. I incorporate different approaches such as mindfulness, acceptance and commitment, self-compassion and exposures/response prevention into my CBT treatment philosophy.
How long have you been working with anxiety, and how long have you been in St. Louis?
I have been working with anxiety since 2007 and have been in St. Louis since 2014. I traveled around the country for 10 years before returning to my hometown of St. Louis.
Who are your favorite types of clients to work with?
I have a particular fondness for working with elementary aged children with any anxiety disorder or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Using creativity to make the sessions fun AND helpful is a specialty of mine!
What happens during a first appointment with you?
The first appointment is parents only. This allows me to get information about your child to make the best choices I can about your child's first meeting with me. It also helps prevent your child from feeling like we are 'talking about them' when I meet with children first and then parents. I ask that parents do not bring their child with them to the first appointment for this reason too.
In a child's first appointment, I will spend the entire time exclusively with the child in order to begin developing a relationship with them. The first appointment is typically more casual and playful than other appointments. We will talk about friends, school, hobbies, pets and family. Sometimes we will color while we talk, play with model magic or just lounge on the couch. I will always address the 'elephant in the room' which is the reason they are coming to see me in the first place. I give them the option to tell me more about this during this session or to wait until the next session.
Sometimes children need time to develop trust before talking about anxiety.
I always validate and normalize this for them. It's not easy meeting with a total stranger to talk about things you don't talk to many people about. There are also times that children come in and are eager to share information about what is bothering them and choose to spend the time talking about anxiety. I may even teach the child about where anxiety comes from in this first appointment. Regardless, the first time I meet a child will always be geared towards building a relationship and therefore the approach taken in the initial appointment will vary from child to child.
Could you talk a little about your approach and how it plays into your work with people recovering from anxiety and OCD?
Using CBT, I take a goal-oriented approach. I will work with children to determine what it is they wish could be different in their lives and I will teach them concrete tools and skills that will help to achieve it. I start by teaching them about how anxiety works and where it comes from. Once they understand that, I will teach them interactive tools to help with their body feelings and thoughts that create anxiety and then tools to test out their beliefs about anxiety with their behaviors.
One of the most effective skills for treating anxiety is doing exposures. Exposures are how we test out beliefs. I work with you and your child to develop a step-by-step, achievable plan to test out fears. When we face our fears while using cognitive tools, we can rewire the way our brain processes anxiety. Over time, when people change both their thoughts and behaviors around anxiety, the symptoms of anxiety start to decrease.
What do you wish people knew about getting treatment for OCD and anxiety disorders?
I wish people knew how treatable anxiety disorders are when you have the right skills. It's not easy, but it is absolutely treatable. I also wish more people knew how strong they really are EVEN when they feel anxiety.
How can people learn more and contact you?
You can learn more about me and find my contact information at my website www.calmmindcbt.com
Share one fun fact about you that most people don’t know.
I am CANADIAN!
Where can people find more information about anxiety and OCD counseling with you?
Curious to know more about Compassionate Counseling St. Louis? Kelsey Torgerson Dunn, MSW, LCSW specializes in anxiety and anger management for kids, teens and college students in St. Louis, MO. You can set up a free phone consultation with her by visiting her website, www.compassionatecounselingstl.com/consult. We work with kids, teens, and families throughout Clayton, Brentwood, Ladue, Creve Couer, and West County. And if we’re not the best fit, we’ll help connect you with other amazing St. Louis counselors, therapists, psychologists, or psychiatrists - just like Angela!