Child OCD & Anxiety Disorders Program

Therapy through Research

We offer various types of talk therapy through our research studies for children. To read more about patient care resources and therapy outside of our active studies, visit the COAP clinic webpage.

For Anxiety

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is thought to work by aligning the ‘feeling’ and ‘thinking’ parts of the brain, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. In scary or new situations, the amygdala sends a fear signal to the prefrontal cortex. When things are working well, the prefrontal cortex deciphers the situation and sends a message back to the amygdala along the lines of, “Hey, chill out.” But when anxiety strikes, communication between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex breaks down, and the “chill” message never reaches the amygdala. The feedback loop breaks down.

So, CBT aims to tamp down the amygdala’s panic response — by making a scary situation, like going to a friend’s house, routine — and amp up the prefrontal cortex’s calming effect. Knocking the amygdala down a notch should in theory help it sync better with the prefrontal cortex. Essentially, says Dr. Kate Fitzgerald, the brain learns “to feel the fear and [go ahead] anyway.”

Adapted from an article by Sujata Gupta for Science News. Read full article

Relaxation Mentorship Training (RMT)

A subgroup of participants eligible for the Anxiety-CBT study will be assigned to 12 weeks of relaxation mentorship training with a study team therapist. An additional 12 weeks of optional CBT will be made available at the end of the RMT portion.

For OCD

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

Exposure and response prevention therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that involves exposing oneself to the thoughts, images, objects and situations that make them anxious and/or start their obsessions. The response prevention part of ERP refers to making a choice not to do a compulsive behavior once the anxiety or obsessions have been “triggered.” All of this is done under the guidance of a therapist at the beginning — though patients will eventually learn to do their own ERP exercises to help manage their symptoms.

Adapted from an article by the International OCD Foundation. Read full article here.

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