Family-Based Therapy Helps Young OCD Sufferers

Posted by Phil Cardenas on May 29, 2014

Children 5-8 years old can benefit from therapies used for older children and adults, according to a study by the Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center in Rhode Island.

Researchers at three academic medical centers studied 127 children between five and eight years old diagnosed with OCD in 14-week randomized studies over a five-year period. Each subject received either Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) or relaxation therapy (RT) in a family-based setting in which family members were taught and applied the techniques used in each discipline.

While CBT and RT are widely used for older patients, the traditional approach for children in the 5-8 age group has been to watch and wait before deciding a therapeutic course. The purpose of the Bradley study was to see if starting therapy in a family setting for younger sufferers would be beneficial. The results strongly indicate that it is.

While both therapies showed positive results, the CBT showed the greatest improvement. Forty-one percent of the children receiving relaxation therapy showed “much” or “very much” improvement while 72 percent receiving CBT with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) showed similar results.

The study was led by Jennifer Freeman, Ph.D., Bradley Hasbro staff psychologist and clinical co-director of the Intensive Program for OCD at Bradley Hospital. In a May 5 press release by the hospital, Freeman said, “CBT has been established as an effective form of OCD treatment in older children and adolescents, but its effect on young children has not been thoroughly examined,” said Freeman. “These findings have significant public health implications, as they support the idea that very young children with emerging OCD can benefit from behavioral treatment.”

Early diagnosis and treatment can have significant benefits for OCD sufferers and their families. The Bradley study is part of an increasing base of knowledge about OCD that offers ever-increasing hope of managing the disorder so those afflicted with it can live happy and productive lives. The study also points out the benefits of families taking an active role in treatment.

Beyond OCD is a non-profit organization devoted to better understanding of OCD, its diagnosis, and its treatment. Our web site has lots of information on the disorder, how to recognize it, and resources for additional information and treatment.

Beyond OCD is committed to offering OCD sufferers and their loved ones the latest information about OCD as well as carefully chosen sources for treatment. To learn more about OCD and its treatment, visit our web site at It’s there to help you get the information you need to go beyond OCD.


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