Effective OCD treatments include cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) and medication. However, access to treatment can be difficult and does not systematically include parents.
Participation in groups may reduce parental stress with resultant benefits for the family functioning and relationships. In this study, researchers evaluate clinical effects of group-based family CBT.
Clinical outcomes in group-based family cognitive-behaviour therapy
Group-based family CBT is a new and efficient treatment model yet to be formally studied in pediatric OCD. This case-control study examines the efficacy of the group therapy for pediatric OCD, how often families participate in the therapy, and follow-up “booster” sessions.
Participants are referred to us from the group-based family cognitive behaviour therapy program. These patients have already received the Anxiety Disorder Interview Schedule (ADIS), conducted by an OCD clinic psychologist. Once consent has been obtained, participants are asked to complete questionnaires/measures on a secure web-based app. We collect data related to OCD severity, individual and family functioning at six points: baseline, midpoint and completion of the 12 sessions as well as for each of the booster sessions.
An OCD clinic psychologist and doctoral-level psychology trainees co-facilitate the program, which includes CBT group activities such as the following:
- Psychoeducation, exposure and response prevention (E/RP) tasks
- Cognitive distortion challenges
- Anxiety-management strategies
To increase the proof of the treatment, several opportunities per week are given to complete E/RPs outside of the hospital-based clinic. Parents participate in concurrent one-hour support groups during the treatment period. These groups enable parents to do the following:
- Obtain social support from other parents of OCD-affected youth
- Learn specific treatment strategies
- Decrease family accommodation of OCD behaviours
- Coach their child through E/RPs at home
Booster sessions are conducted with participants who have completed the group-based family cognitive-behaviour therapy program. These sessions review content from previous sessions and the development and practice of exposure and response prevention exercises.
If group-based family cognitive-behaviour therapy is demonstrated to improve OCD-related outcomes, the study may provide a rationale for the expansion of this treatment to other clinics. We believe that at least some of the individuals in the program will see improvements in OCD severity, overall functioning, and family functioning.