OCD in Children

OCD in childrenEverybody has worries, even your Mum and Dad. Sometimes these worries are about school, friends, trying new foods, animals or even the thoughts themselves. Some worries are scary because they do not make sense and they might make you do certain behaviours. The name for this type of worry is called Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (or OCD for short). The 'O' part or obsessions are thoughts, pictures or urges. Some of these include:

  • Worrying that your hands are not clean
  • Worrying about that you might hurt someone you love
  • Worrying that you may have cheated on an assignment
  • Thinking that you have to count up to a certain number
  • Worrying about what you may or may not have said to someone
  • Worrying that everything has to be neat and tidy (e.g school desk)
  • Worry about something bad happening to someone you care about, such as your Mum or Dad, brother or sister, or a pet

The 'C' part or compulsions are behaviours or actions that the obsessions makes you think you need to do. Some of these include:

  • Washing your hands or showering in a certain way
  • Counting or saying things in your head
  • Asking you parents the same question over and over again or “did I hear that right”
  • Avoiding certain numbers when counting
  • Dressing in a certain way (pulling socks up and down)
  • Checking lights switches lots of times
  • Sitting or standing in certain ways

Treatment for children with OCD

Then only well-established treatment for children with OCD is exposure-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with a strong emphasis on family involvement. CBT including  "Exposure and Response Prevention" (ERP) has been found by researchers to be the most effective treatment for OCD in children. It is critical that your child is treated by a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of OCD. Several important questions to ask your therapist prior to engaging in therapy are:

  • Do they specialise in OCD
  • Are they a member of the APS college of clinical psychologists
  • Do they have a PhD specializing in OCD
  • Do they have a proven publication history specifically researching OCD.

Important take home messages

  • You are not the only one with OCD. There are 55, 500 people in Brisbane with OCD
  • Talking about OCD does not make it real
  • You can stop the OCD thoughts
  • You are not a bad person because you have scary thought
  • The psychologist you will see works with people every day who have OCD, so nothing sounds “weird or embarrassing”.

Please refer to the appointment section for further information on scheduling and also How it can make me feel section to help explain OCD to your child. OCD In Children - Download is a valuable resource for parents of child with OCD as is 'OCD kids' booklet.

Disclaimer: The information on this page is very general and should not be seen as diagnosis or treatment advice. You should consult a psychologist or other qualified health professional for advice on your specific problems and the best form of treatment for you.

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