Empowering Your Child to Overcome School Refusal

Dealing with school refusal can be an arduous journey for both children and parents

In this booklet, we will explore effective methods to address school refusal, with a focus on two powerful therapeutic approaches – hypnotherapy and ego state therapy. While these therapies may not be the first choice for everyone, they have shown promising results in helping children who have not found success with traditional interventions. As parents, your support and understanding play a crucial role in guiding your child towards a positive and successful path to overcoming school refusal.

Understanding the Complexity of School Refusal

Before delving into therapeutic approaches, it’s essential to grasp the complexity of school refusal and its potential underlying causes. Despite previous attempts with various professionals, your child’s school refusal may persist due to deep-seated emotional issues, unresolved traumas, or complex psychological challenges. School refusal is an emotional problem that affects some children and teenagers who feel unable to cope with going to school. It can cause distress, anxiety, physical symptoms and interfere with their social and educational development. (Raising Children Network (Australia) Limited, 2006-2023).

There are different reasons why a child might refuse to go to school, such as fear of failure, bullying, family issues or mental health problems. (Headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation Ltd 2023., 2013) As a parent, you can help by being supportive, understanding and patient with your child. You can also work with the school and seek professional help if needed.

Embracing Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is a powerful therapeutic technique that can facilitate profound changes in your child’s mindset. By guiding your child into a state of focused relaxation, hypnotherapy can help them explore the root causes of their school refusal. This therapy encourages positive behavioural changes by addressing subconscious fears and anxieties that traditional methods may not have effectively reached. Hypnotherapy is a therapeutic tool that uses hypnosis to access the subconscious mind and create positive changes in thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

Hypnotherapy can help a child overcome school refusal by addressing the underlying causes of their anxiety, this therapy can also help a child relax, cope with stress, increase confidence and motivation, and develop new skills and strategies to deal with school challenges. Hypnotherapy is best viewed as part of a collaborative approach that involves the child, parents, school and other professionals.

Embracing Ego State Therapy (EST)

Ego State Therapy offers a unique and valuable approach to tackling school refusal. EST can offer a unique approach to tackling school refusal by helping a child identify and communicate with their ego states that are responsible for their anxiety, fear, anger, or resistance to school.

EST can also help a child access their resourceful ego states that can provide support, confidence, motivation, and coping skills by working with different aspects of your child’s personality, this therapy aims to understand and heal fragmented emotions and memories contributing to their avoidance of school.

The integration of these ego states can lead to improved coping mechanisms and a sense of emotional balance.
“Ego states are different aspects of a person’s personality that have their own memories, feelings, thoughts and behaviours. They are formed by various experiences in life, such as trauma, attachment, learning or socialization. Some ego states may be more dominant or active than others, depending on the situation or context. Ego states can also conflict or cooperate with each other, creating internal harmony or discord.” (Nursalim, 2020)

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a form of self-help therapy that involves tapping on specific points on the body while focusing on negative emotions or thoughts. It is based on the idea that emotional distress is caused by a disruption in the body’s energy system, and that tapping can restore the balance and reduce stress.

“Emotional freedom technique (EFT) is a form of energy psychology that combines acupressure with cognitive interventions. EFT is based on the premise that emotional distress is caused by a disruption in the body’s energy system, and that tapping on specific meridian points can restore the balance and reduce stress. EFT has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, phobia, and trauma symptoms in various populations, including children and adolescents.” (Church, 2013/01/01)

Self-hypnosis is a state of focused attention and relaxation that can help people access their subconscious mind and change their beliefs, habits, or feelings. It can be done by listening to a recorded script, using imagery or affirmations, or following a self-guided process.

School refusal is a term that describes when a child or adolescent experiences high levels of anxiety or fear about going to school and avoids or refuses to attend school as a result. It can be caused by various factors, such as academic pressure, social problems, family issues, bullying, trauma, or separation anxiety.

EFT and self-hypnosis can be combined to overcome school refusal by helping the child or adolescent to:

  • Identify and release the negative emotions or thoughts that trigger their anxiety or fear about school.
  • Replace them with positive emotions or thoughts that boost their confidence, motivation and resilience.
  • Visualize themselves going to school calmly and successfully, and coping with any challenges they may face.
  • Reinforce their new mindset and behaviour with regular practice and positive feedback.

Some studies have shown that EFT and self-hypnosis can reduce anxiety, improve self-esteem, enhance academic performance, and increase school attendance in children and adolescents who struggle with school refusal.

Introducing Milestones as a Therapeutic Approach

Let’s integrate the use of self-hypnosis and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) into each milestone to enhance the process of overcoming school refusal for your child:

Milestone 1: Acknowledgment and Acceptance

Example: EFT and even self-hypnosis to explore underlying emotions and beliefs related to school refusal issues, allowing for a deeper understanding of your child fears and misgivings.

Directions: (1) Practice self-hypnosis sessions to enter a relaxed state, then explore past experiences and emotions related to fear of going to school. (2) Utilize EFT tapping to address any guilt, shame or fear associated with your child’s, school issues thus promoting self-acceptance and self-esteem.

Milestone 2: Goal Setting

Example: Use self-hypnosis to reinforce your commitment to your child’s recovery goals and promoting your child’s self-visualization of successfully achieving them.

Directions: (1) Before sleep or during focused relaxation, encourage your child to visualize achieving short-term and long-term school acceptance goals. (2) During EFT tapping, encourage your child to affirm a determination to overcome school refusal and fear, tapping on acupressure points while repeating empowering statements.

Milestone 3: Visualization and Positive Reinforcement

Example: Practice self-hypnosis to vividly imagine the benefits of living a stress-free, happy school life, enhancing motivation and confidence.

Directions: (1) Engage in self-hypnosis sessions that emphasize the positive outcomes of school attendance, such as improved mental health, stronger relationships, and increased happiness. (2) Use EFT tapping to reinforce positive affirmations about your child’s journey, releasing any doubts or fears that may hinder progress.

Milestone 4: Mindfulness and Meditation

Example: Incorporate self-hypnosis techniques to deepen your child’s mindfulness practice and increase self-awareness of negative emotional triggers and fears.

Directions: (1) During self-hypnosis, focus on building mindfulness skills, such as observing thoughts without judgment and acknowledging emotions related to not attending school. (2) Use EFT tapping as a grounding technique during mindfulness practice to redirect attention away from the negative thought of school and maintain present-moment awareness.

Milestone 5: Seeking Professional Support

Example: Use self-hypnosis or EFT to address any anxieties or reservations about seeking professional help, making the process more comfortable and approachable.

Directions: (1) Practice self-hypnosis to reduce any fears or worries associated with counselling or support groups, fostering a sense of openness and willingness to seek help. (2) Utilize EFT tapping to release any negative associations with therapy or seeking support, allowing for a more positive mindset about seeking professional assistance.

Milestone 6: Cultivating Healthy Habits

Example: Reinforce the commitment to healthy habits through self-hypnosis and EFT, making the transition to a healthier lifestyle away from doing nothing more seamless.

Directions: (1) Utilize self-hypnosis to allow the child to visualize self fully embracing and enjoying healthy school habits, such as exercise and friendship, personal achievement through study. (2) Use EFT tapping to address any resistance to change, tapping on points while affirming your readiness and excitement for a healthier social and scholastic lifestyle.

Milestone 7: Identifying Underlying Issues

Example: Use self-hypnosis or EFT to explore and release any emotional triggers contributing to school refusal, allowing for deeper healing and personal understanding.

Directions: (1) Engage in self-hypnosis sessions to access subconscious memories and emotions related to failings and fears, facilitating a deeper understanding of underlying issues. (2) Use EFT tapping to address specific emotional triggers, tapping on acupressure points while acknowledging and releasing associated negative emotions.

Milestone 8: Celebrating Progress

Example: Use self-hypnosis or EFT to reinforce a sense of accomplishment and celebrate each milestone in your recovery journey.

Directions: (1) Practice self-hypnosis to boost self-esteem and self-confidence, recognizing and celebrating the progress made in your recovery. (2) Use EFT tapping to anchor positive emotions associated with achievements, tapping on acupressure points while acknowledging and celebrating your success.

By integrating self-hypnosis and Emotional Freedom Technique into each milestone, you can tap into the power of your mind to overcome the fears and misgivings of school attendance more effectively. These techniques can help you explore underlying emotions, visualize success, enhance mindfulness, seeking professional support with confidence, and cultivate positive school feelings. Moreover, self-hypnosis and EFT can be valuable tools for addressing emotional triggers, celebrating progress, and embracing a life of scholarly excitement exploration and achievement.

Things that some parents do that are negative to a child overcoming school refusal

  • Telling their child’s friends or peers about their school anxiety.
  • Shaming or punishing their child for not going to school.
  • Threatening their child for not going to school.
  • Making fun of their child, or allowing siblings to make fun of their child, for not going to school.
  • Assuming the issue will work out on its own.
  • These behaviours can make the child feel more anxious, guilty, angry, or hopeless about their situation, and reduce their trust and cooperation with their parents.
  • They can also reinforce the child’s negative beliefs about school and themselves and make them more resistant to change.

Instead of these behaviours, parents can help their child overcome school refusal by:

  • Showing empathy and understanding for their child’s feelings and difficulties.
  • Encouraging and praising their child for any efforts or progress they make towards attending school.
  • Working with the school and a mental health professional to develop a plan and strategies to support their child’s return to school.
  • Providing structure and routine at home and setting clear expectations and boundaries for their child.
  • Seeking help and support for themselves if they feel overwhelmed or stressed by the situation.


While school refusal can be a daunting road to navigate, embracing hypnotherapy and Ego State Therapy, and Emotional Freedom Technique as viable options can bring new hope to your child’s journey towards overcoming their challenges. The journey may not always be smooth, but with your love, support, and openness to alternative approaches, you can empower your child to build resilience and discover the strength needed to flourish in the face of adversity. Remember that every child’s path is unique, and by embracing these therapies, you open doors to potential breakthroughs that may lead to a brighter and more successful future for your child.

In conclusion, EFT and self-hypnosis are two self-help techniques that can help children and adolescents overcome school refusal by reducing their anxiety and fear and increasing their confidence and motivation. However, parents also play a crucial role in supporting their child’s recovery by avoiding negative behaviours that can worsen the problem, and by adopting positive behaviours that can facilitate the change. School refusal is a complex and challenging issue that requires collaboration and communication between the child, the parents, the school, and the mental health professionals.

Remember, hypnotherapy is just one approach, but it can be a valuable aid on your path to overcoming school refusal.


In Australia, resources to support your child’s return to school include consulting a qualified GP or seeking mental health services. A mental health plan can provide subsidized therapy under Medicare, but Hypnotherapy is not covered. Organizations offering psychological support for school refusal include:

  • Headspace: A national youth mental health foundation catering to individuals aged 12 to 25, providing specialized support and counseling services.
  • Kids Helpline: A free and confidential counseling service available 24/7, assisting children and young people up to the age of 25 with various concerns, including school refusal.
  • Beyond Blue: This mental health organization offers valuable information and support for individuals experiencing anxiety and depression, which can be linked to school refusal.
  • Reach Out: An online mental health service designed for young people and parents, offering a range of resources, tools, and support for addressing various mental health issues, including school refusal.
  • Lifeline: A crisis support and suicide prevention service with a 24/7 helpline, catering to individuals facing emotional distress, including difficulties related to school attendance.

Headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation Ltd 2023., 2013. understanding school refusal. [Online]
Available at: https://headspace.org.au/explore-topics/supporting-a-young-person/school-refusal/
Nursalim, M., 2020. Ego State Therapy (EST) and Systemic Desensitization (SD) to Reduce School Refusal among Senior High School Students. Indian Journal of Public Health Research & Development.
Raising Children Network (Australia) Limited, 2006-2023. School Refusal. [Online]
Available at: https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/school-learning/school-refusal/school-refusal


Rebecca Ramos
Rebecca Ramos
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Life Vision Counselling
Life Vision Counselling
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