Who We Treat
We work with children, adolescents, and emerging adults with OCD, anxiety, and related disorders.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder characterized by the presence of both obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are defined as unwanted, intrusive thoughts that are repetitive in nature. Compulsions are defined as behaviors, mental or otherwise, that one feels compelled to perform in order to get rid of obsessions and the uncomfortable emotions and sensations that accompany them. Compulsions often become ritualized and include overt compulsions, avoidance, reassurance seeking, and mental compulsions. Those with OCD experience marked distress, in the form of anxiety, disgust, and/or discomfort. OCD sufferers might feel an underlying sense of dread, fearing that something terrible will happen. Children and adolescents with OCD, especially young children, may lack insight about their symptoms, when compared to adults with OCD. They may also experience more somatic symptoms than adults, such as an upset stomach. OCD can be highly debilitating and can also negatively affect the sufferer’s entire family system. Without treatment, OCD can become chronic, although symptoms may wax and wane. Fortunately, highly effective treatment for OCD exists.
Types of OCD include, but are not limited to:
OC Spectrum Disorders
Obsessive compulsive (OC) spectrum disorders are a group of disorders that are quite similar to OCD, but the symptoms of these disorders do not meet full criteria for OCD. Much like OCD, certain OC spectrum disorders involve obsessive thinking and engagement in compulsive behavior. The obsessions may be about a perceived physical flaw or flaws, concerns about health and fear of illness, or the fear of emitting an unpleasant odor. Other OC spectrum disorders involve experiencing strong urges to engage in repetitive actions that can cause damage to one’s own skin, hair, nails, lips, or cheeks. As is the case with those diagnosed with OCD, children and adolescents diagnosed with OC spectrum disorders experience significant distress and their symptoms can be impairing. That being said, when those diagnosed with OC spectrum disorders are offered evidence-based treatment, they generally respond quite well.
OC Spectrum Disorders include:
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common types of disorder experienced in childhood and adolescence. Anxiety is on the rise among young people today, as they face a myriad of challenges, in part related to media and technology, that previous generations did not encounter. Anxiety is a normal part of the human experience and can even be protective, in that it acts as an internal alarm signaling danger. In the case of anxiety disorders, a false alarm is triggered, and the feeling of distress is out of proportion to the situation or stressor. Anxiety disorders, including specific phobias, can create significant distress and impair functioning, especially when left unchecked, and symptoms of anxiety may negatively impact school performance and arrest development. Thankfully, when it comes to mental health conditions, anxiety disorders are among the most treatable.
Anxiety Disorders include:
Body-Focused Repetitive Disorders
Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) are classified as OC spectrum disorders. Those with BFRBs engage in repetitive behaviors such as picking, biting, pulling, and scratching. Even though the repetitive behavior can cause damage to skin, hair, nails, lips, or cheeks, BFRBs are self-soothing behaviors and are not considered to be self-harming. Those with BFRBs may pick, bite, pull, or scratch when in a trance-like state and not realize how much time is consumed by their symptoms. Those with BFRBs often feel guilt or even shame about their behavior and might find it difficult to talk about their experience. Having a BFRB can be quite isolating. Children and adolescents with BFRBs could face the added stressor of being singled out by their peers for having noticeable scabs or wounds, damage to their nails, or hair loss. When offered evidence-based treatment, those diagnosed with BFRBs can learn to manage their symptoms.