A study by researchers from Denmark, Norway and Sweden demonstrated that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can reduce the amount of symptoms in children diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
The study involved 260 children and adolescents with OCD and almost half the children were entirely free of their OCD symptoms after the first phase of the CBT treatment had concluded. “Frankly, we’re amazed at how effective the treatment is,” said Professor Per Hove Thomsen, co-author of the study and psychiatrist at the Regional Centre for Child and Youth Psychiatry at Aarhus University Hospital, Risskov.
“It’s a question of the child learning to fight the symptoms of OCD and gradually learning to take control of their own thoughts and behavior,” he said.
The NordLOTS researchers have just published the results of their work with OCD children in the scientific journal Behavior Research and Therapy.
The first phase of the project consisted of 13 sessions at the hospital, where the children and their parents came in for an hour and a half of cognitive therapy with a psychiatrist or a psychologist. The therapists followed a special cognitive therapy manual developed in conjunction with the research project.
“We believe the reason why the treatment is so effective in our study is that we’ve involved the parents to a higher degree than in previous studies. They learn about OCD and are given tools to help them support their children,” said Professor Thomsen.
OCD researcher Brian Lawrence Odlaug, visiting researcher at the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen, was impressed by the results of the new study.
“It‘s a well-executed study with a strong result,” he said. “The participants had pretty serious problems so the results confirm that cognitive behavioral therapy is a powerful form of treatment that should be offered to all children with OCD.”