In this episode of the TiLT Parenting Podcast, my guest is Dr. Chris Kearney, Chair of Psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. and the Director of the UNLV Child School Refusal and Anxiety Disorders Clinic. Yes, you read that right, there is an actual clinic for the treatment of school refusal, something I was very excited to learn about recently and exactly the reason why I wanted to bring Dr. Kearney on to the show to talk about this very real, very disruptive, and more-common-than-you-think issue for many children. 

In our conversation, Dr. Kearney tells us what school refusal looks like, why it happens, and how to handle it, both with your child and your school. I’m so grateful for the expertise and the clinical perspective that Dr. Kearney brings to this topic and I hope you find this conversation helpful.


About Dr. Kearney: Christopher A. Kearney, Ph.D. is Distinguished Professor and Chair of Psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is also the Director of the UNLV Child School Refusal and Anxiety Disorders Clinic. Dr. Kearney received his B.A. in psychology and sociology from the State University of New York at Binghamton and his M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology (clinical) from the State University of New York at Albany. He completed his internship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center before moving to Las Vegas.

Dr. Kearney’s research interests include school attendance problems and school refusal behavior, selective mutism, post-traumatic stress disorder in maltreated youth, perfectionism, and other anxiety-related conditions in children and adolescents as well as issues of quality of life in persons with severe handicaps. He has published several books and numerous book chapters and journal articles on these topics. Dr. Kearney also conducts workshops for school districts and mental health and other agencies regarding school refusal behavior and selective mutism (contact Dr. Kearney for more information at

Dr. Kearney is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Division 12; Clinical Psychology). He has received the William Morris Award for Scholarship, the Barrick Scholar Award, the Barrick Distinguished Scholar Award, the Harry Reid Silver State Research Award, the Distinguished Teaching Award, the Alumni Association Outstanding Faculty Award, the UNLV Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award, the Academic Advisor Award-Graduate, the Donald Schmiedel Service Award, the James Frey Senior Faculty Excellence in Scholarship Award, and a Black Mountain Institute Research Fellow Award from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi.



  • What is meant by school refusal
  • How school refusal might manifest at different ages
  • What are the core underlying reasons for school refusal
  • What school administrators and teachers can do to be supportive of a child experiencing school refusal
  • What the clinical/therapeutic process might look like to support a child through school refusal
  • Dr. Kearny’s advice for best practices in supporting a child at home during school hours
  • How parents can build support and seek help if their child is refusing to go to school
  • Whether it’s OK to physically force a child to attend school
  • How long a period of school refusal might last and ways to help a child re-acclimate to attending school





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