Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE Parent Training)
What is Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE)? (SPACE) is a research-backed treatment for youth with anxiety disorders and OCD. It was created by Yale researcher Eli Lebowitz, PhD. In SPACE, caregivers learn how to change their own behaviors to promote their child’s approach toward anxiety triggers. Although this is a treatment for the child’s anxiety, children are not involved in the treatment; rather, caregivers learn the concept of removing “accommodating” behaviors that keep the child stuck in cycles of avoidance. For example, a parent might help their child face their fear of the dark by developing a formal plan that reduces their over-involvement in their child’s nighttime routine.
The principles of SPACE can be applied with young children through young adults experiencing “failure to launch.” Sessions can take place in an individual (caregivers) or group format.
Therapists can undergo a process of becoming certified in SPACE, which requires months of supervised training. You can check if a therapist is certified here. Dr. Cameron Mosley is certified in SPACE and conducts it virtually and in person, in groups and individually. Dr. Julia Buch Wamstad and Heidi M. Wood are also certified in SPACE and they conduce it virtually for individual parents/caregivers.
What about medication? Medications may be prescribed to the individual child with potential success, especially in the short term. SPACE therapy teaches caregivers a set of skills that can continue to be utilized throughout their child’s life. These skills can be flexibly adapted to understand how to best parent your child as they continue to age and experience anxiety in different ways.