Online therapy targets OCD
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a misunderstood condition, often viewed as a personality ‘quirk’ that manifests as a need to alphabetise DVDs, count objects or have cushions sitting just so. In fact, OCD is a debilitating anxiety disorder characterised by recurring intrusive thoughts or impulses, and repetitive mental and/or behavioural rituals. OCD affects more than 450,000 Australians, and up to three per cent of these are children and young people.
For young people with OCD, early intervention is critical to preventing the development of more severe symptoms in adulthood. Treatment options are currently limited, however a team of researchers from the School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, led by Associate Professor Clare Rees, has found that online therapy can significantly reduce the symptoms and severity of OCD in young people.
The team has developed the OCD? Not Me! Program, an internet Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) intervention, for young people aged between 12 and 18 years. Participants who completed the program demonstrated significant reductions in OCD symptoms and severity.
Associate Professor Rees said the program offered an effective treatment option for a group often unable to access appropriate care.
“The disorder is associated with high levels of comorbidity and significant psychosocial impairment, such as difficulties concentrating at school and completing homework, disruption in household routines and social functioning,” she said.
“Given the current limitations in the acceptability, availability and accessibility of mental health care for young people with OCD, the results show just how important self-guided iCBT is to broaden treatment access to this group.”
The OCD? Not Me! Program is based on the gold standard face-to-face treatment for OCD. The program involves eight stages, designed to be undertaken over eight weeks, and provides young people with information, tips, activities, and support to help them to overcome the symptoms of OCD. The program also provides support for parents and caregivers, with weekly information and tips to help them manage their child’s OCD and support them through the program.