Helping parents understand child’s anxiety

Free workshop for parents offered by Okanagan counsellors, Jodi Krahn and Felicia O'Gorman, Understanding Anxiety in your Child.

Jodi Krahn and Felicia O’Gorman bring their vision of a collaborative approach to counseling.

They have been working with children, youth, adults and families with Stepping Stones Counseling in Kelowna and are both now with the recently opened Vernon office. In line with their philosophy of making as much information as possible available to the public, they are offering a free workshop for parents on anxiety in children April 3.

“Babies can have anxiety but they can’t express it. Parents learn how to interpret what is happening and it is important that their approach matches the child’s temperament,” said Krahn.

The workshop will give an overview and basic information on anxiety in children for parents, foster parents, teachers, caregivers and anyone who works with children.

“Anxiety is very common. Children can have anxiety about their own and other’s expectations for them at school and socially, as well as family situations. Electronics can cause anxiety as they try to keep up with social networking. But anxiety is not always bad, it can signal needs,” said O’Gorman. “Some signs of anxiety can be avoidance of school, friends or certain activities, worry, excessive crying, not being able to calm themselves and rituals and magical thinking, even in children as young as pre-schoolers. This means they do not feel safe and are trying to come up with ways to make themselves feel safe.”

The workshop will discuss how to recognize different kinds of anxiety and how to talk about it and deal with anxiety and panic attacks, as well.

“Parents feel empowered by knowledge. They may feel helpless but they can play a large role in helping to normalize anxiety and manage it,” said Krahn.

She and O’Gorman work with families and with children, adults and couples individually.

“It seems that most of my adult life, I have been a lay counselor, peer helper and mentor,” said Krahn, who was home with children then got her Master of Counseling from Gonzaga University.

“It’s very rewarding, and for me, it’s very sacred work when people let you in to their healing journey. A big part of what I do is based on my own life experiences and healing myself.”

She has worked with people with developmental disabilities through Community Living B.C. and done group work at NOYFSS as well as private practice.

O’Gorman got her Master of Counseling from the University of Calgary after her children were grown.

“I’ve always worked with kids, coaching and in sports and education. I saw kids having difficulties and I was able to help in some ways but I wanted more credentials to be able to work in more meaningful ways. Every kid should have a chance at success in their lives,” she said. She has worked in counseling at the Family Resource Centre.

Krahn and O’Gorman both have additional specialized training in play therapy and art therapy.

“Our hope is to fill a niche here in Vernon in adding to the family services that are already here. We want to create an attachment network, which has been welcomed in Kelowna. This brings health care workers together for support and education and to learn about community resources so they can make appropriate referrals for their clients,” said O’Gorman.

Anyone who is interested in an attachment network can contact her at felicia.steppingstones@gmail.com.

Understanding Anxiety in Your Child takes place April 3 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Stepping Stones office,  25 – Kal Lake Rd. (Alpine Centre). Pre-registration is necessary as seating is limited. For more information, call Krahn at 250-307-6465, e-mail jodik1@telus.net or see www.steppingstoneskelowna.ca.