“Discomfort is a wise teacher” —Caroline Myss
“And sometimes you meet yourself back where you started, but stronger” —Yrsa Daley-Ward
I just got back from Oconomowoc Wisconsin where I was able to attend the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation (IOCDF) Pediatric Behavior Therapy Training Institute (BTTI). The IOCDF’s Pediatric BTTI is an intensive three-day training course providing in-depth education on the diagnosis and treatment of OCD in children and adolescents. I was able to learn the best evidenced based practices from leaders in the field, such as Eric Storch PHD, Aureen Pinto Wagner PHD, Stephani Eken MD, FAAP, and Martin Franklin PHD. and bring back the information to all our therapists here at the Child and Adolescent Treatment Specialists (CHATS).
Some of the topics included in the training were: 1. Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Pediatric OCD, 2.Cultivating Readiness: Dismantling reluctance in Pediatric OCD, 3. Psychopharmacology in OCD, 4. Trichotillomania and Tourette Syndrome, 5. Pediatric Body Dysmorphic Disorder, 6. Comorbidity in Pediatric OCD.
I was able to bring the most recent research and training regarding pediatric anxiety and OCD back to all our therapists here at the Child and Adolescent Treatment Specialists (CHATS).We are strongly committed to providing good and effective treatment to children and adolescents who come to our clinic.
One in 200 children in the United States suffer from OCD. That is nearly half a million children. However, many children with OCD go undiagnosed and/or receive ineffective treatment. It is thought that 80 percent of adults with OCD actually began having it in childhood.
Please see the following helpful videos:
Not all children and/or adolescents with OCD will need medication. If medication is recommended it will usually be an SSRI that is prescribed through a medical doctor. For information on how medications are used in pediatric OCD please see the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry links (AACAP).
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Resource Center
Psychiatric Medication For Children And Adolescents Part I – How Medications Are Used
Psychiatric Medication For Children And Adolescents: Part II – Types Of Medications
According to Eric Storch PHD, “If you don’t do anything it (OCD) won’t get better”.
Dr. Storch espouses that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) including exposure based treatments are necessary to address symptoms of OCD. Treatment consists of Psycho-education, Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) (going toward fears in a slow step-wise fashion), Developmentally appropriate Cognitive Therapy, Family Therapy, Contingency Management (rewards, etc.), and Relapse prevention.
Eric Storch, PHD, discussed that 53 % of kids with OCD also have difficulties with “rage attacks” when parents tried to set limits around OCD triggers. He suggested that the rage is important to address in the treatment of OCD. Family involvement is key in this effort. OCD effects the family and is a family issue.
A treatment professional can help establish what Dr. Storch calls the “parents’ as therapists’ model”. This model involves parents in the therapy sessions (where appropriate) and helps parents and children learn skills to address the OCD. Parents learn about anxiety and OCD, learn how to address accommodation that may be intensifying OCD, and how to help their children practice skills between treatment sessions. The therapist takes the lead role and then eventually transfers that role to the parent(s).
As part of the pediatric OCD training, Dr. Storch told a story about his own young daughter. One day she asked her dad why he was gone so much. To this he replied that he was both helping other professionals learn how to help kids with worries and OCD and also helping children with anxiety and OCD. His daughter replied, “Don’t you just face your fears and do it over and over and over again.” Storch stated, his young daughter summarized his whole career in this one statement. OCD treatment and recovery focuses on a “general approach to life in which you face your fears no matter what”. Skills are taught and utilized in treatment to help children and adolescents be able to utilize this general approach.
Avoidance tends to be at the core of many difficulties with anxiety. Avoidance increases anxiety. With anxiety we see children and adolescents avoiding the things they are fearful of. These may include germs, new foods, movies or TV, class and school, etc. Exposure to fears and/or disgust, rather than avoidance, and response prevention can be done with creativity, engagement and fun by a therapist trained in CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) and ERP (exposure response prevention). As a learning vehicle, exposure and response prevention (preventing the typically feared response) generally teaches that:
(1). Feared thing doesn’t happen. Or
(2). It does happen but it is not so bad. And
(3). I can cope if given the chance. And
(4). Practice is helpful.
There are many other skills children/adolescents and parents learn over the course of cognitive behavioral treatment and treatment for anxiety and OCD. Dr. Storch emphasized that treatment can change brain functioning over time, especially in children and teens. Pediatric OCD is a treatable condition in which children and families can receive support and treatment.
Over my 25 year career I have had the privilege of treating many individuals with anxiety and OCD. In addition to being so grateful to learn about evidenced based practices for anxiety and OCD, I am also grateful for what I have learned from each person who bravely came into therapy and worked together with me towards healthy change.
For more information on pediatric OCD and/or OCD please see IOCDF.org.
Understanding OCD: A guide for parents and professionals, Edited by Adam B. Lewin and Eric A. Storch
Up and Down the Worry Hill: A children’s book about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and its Treatment by Aureen Pinto Wagner, PHD
What to do when your Child has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Strategies and Solutions by Aureen Pinto Wagner, PHD
(The information in this blog should not be used as a replacement for guidance, consultation, assessment or treatment by a qualified healthcare professional).