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Busch, F.N. Milrod, B.L. (2015). Psychodynamic Treatment for Separation Anxiety in a Treatment Nonresponder. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(5):893-919.

(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(5):893-919

Psychodynamic Treatment for Separation Anxiety in a Treatment Nonresponder

Fredric N. Busch and Barbara L. Milrod

Separation anxiety, long an area of interest for psychoanalysts, has been included in DSM-5 among general “anxiety disorders” that span across age groups. The syndrome of separation anxiety has been shown to correlate with nonresponse to treatments for anxiety and mood disorders (Milrod et al. 2014). It is therefore of public health importance to develop targeted treatments for this syndrome. Some psychoanalysts have suggested that brief psychoanalytic interventions may be of particular value in addressing separation anxiety. Our clinical work with patients with anxiety disorders with high levels of separation anxiety indicates that they have such intense anger and ambivalence in fraught intimate relationships that they feel stuck and helpless, almost eliminating more positive feelings. This ambivalence and associated unconscious conflicts inevitably emerge in the therapeutic relationship and can threaten to disrupt treatment efforts. We propose a set of focused psychodynamic psychotherapeutic interventions to address separation anxiety, developed as part of Panic-Focused Psychodynamic Psychotherapy-eXtended Range (PFPP-XR; Busch et al. 2012). We present a case from our research study of treatment nonresponders with anxiety disorders and separation anxiety. The patient was successfully treated with PFPP-XR in a 21-session treatment.

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