The Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders Service specializes in diagnosing children with OCD and providing them with individualized treatment using cognitive behavior therapy. This includes exposure and response prevention (ERP), which is the gold-standard treatment for children struggling with OCD and related disorders. For children and adolescents experiencing significant impairment, we also have an Intensive OCD Program that provides a greater level of care.
Led by Jerry Bubrick, PhD, a nationally recognized expert in the diagnosis and treatment of OCD, the OCD Service has provided individual treatment for over 340 children from around the world struggling with OCD and related disorders.
About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is one of the leading causes of mental health struggles in children and adolescents. Children with OCD are plagued with unwanted obsessions — thoughts, images and impulses — that cause anxiety.
In an attempt to fend off their anxiety, children with OCD will perform ritualized or repeated behaviors called compulsions. It may sometimes seem that children with OCD like doing things in a repetitive or set manner, but they are actually seeking to avoid anxiety. OCD can be devastating to a child’s life and can impact all areas of functioning, including life at home, at school and with friends.
Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders
There is a spectrum of disorders that share clinical characteristics with OCD and are treated in similar ways. Clinicians in the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders Service have expertise in treating these disorders, which include:
Illness anxiety disorder
Body dysmorphic disorder
Chronic tic disorders
Social anxiety disorder
Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a technique that works by helping children address their obsessions in incremental steps in a safe, controlled environment. This allows children to experience anxiety and distress without resorting to compulsions, giving them a sense of control. By facing the symptoms head-on, children learn to tolerate their anxiety and, over time, they will discover that their anxiety has actually decreased.
Our clinicians work with each child to develop a “fear hierarchy,” starting with the easiest, least stressful trigger of OCD behavior and working up to the most dreaded. In addition to sessions held at the Child Mind Institute, we can also work on exposures in other real world locations such as buses, restaurants, the outdoors and more.
Because parents are our partners in care, our clinical team will also train caregivers to continue ERP exercises between therapy sessions. For out-of-town patients, we can facilitate hotel accommodations for your stay, and we offer follow-up care through video and phone sessions.
The frequency and intensity of treatment is determined by the severity of a child’s symptoms. For children with mild to moderate symptoms, weekly or twice-weekly sessions are usually recommended. If a child’s symptoms are severe, we may recommend our Intensive OCD Program, which offers treatment three hours a day, five days a week, and can make an extraordinary difference in as little as four weeks, and can prevent hospitalization.
If a child needs medication along with CBT, or has a co-occurring condition such as depression or a learning disorder, we work with our team of child and adolescent psychiatrists, learning specialists and neuropsychologists at the Child Mind Institute. We can also partner with a child’s current therapist or psychiatrist.