Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is often joked about or dropped casually in everyday conversion. But, OCD is no joke, especially to the people living with OCD. OCD is a mental health condition that can affect people of all ages, including children. OCD is characterized by unwanted, intrusive thoughts or images, which can cause anxiety and distress, and compulsions, which are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that are done to reduce anxiety or prevent harm. In children, OCD can be particularly challenging because it can interfere with their ability to learn and socialize, and it can cause significant distress for both the child and their family.
Parents are often confused by the quirky and strange behaviours they see their children doing, while children are often suffering in silence. Before you know it, OCD has become the boss and is running the show and controlling family life. It’s common for parents not to know what is going on before it’s too late and OCD has a strong grip on the child and often the family. As a parent, it can be heartbreaking to see your child struggling with OCD. It can be difficult to understand why your child is experiencing such intense fear or anxiety, and it can be frustrating to watch them engage in compulsive behaviors that interfere with their daily life.
Treatment for OCD
The good news is OCD is VERY treatable! In fact, it’s my favorite challenge to work with because there is such great evidence-based treatments for it. If you and your child put in the work, your child can become the boss of OCD rather than the other way around. I have extensive and specialized experience in treating OCD. My treatment approach involves exposure and response prevention (ERPs) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Parental involvement is an important part of treatment for children with OCD, as OCD has often roped parents into its game. Parents can learn strategies to support their child and reinforce the skills they learn in therapy. They can also help their child practice their new coping strategies at home and in real-life situations.
Fear is a normal human emotion and can be very helpful! Sometimes though, fear grows so big, it gets out of hand and it turns into anxiety. That anxiety can be crippling and hold your child back from living a meaningful life and doing the things they really care about. Anxiety starts to create avoidance and life can get very small. Maybe you noticed that your once bright and social child has now withdrawn, doesn’t go out, and doesn’t talk to people. Or they spend hours doing homework to make sure they complete the perfect assignment. As a parent, it’s hard to watch your child struggle with anxiety. You may feel helpless, unsure of how to support your child, or worried about their future. It can be challenging to know how to help your child when their anxiety seems to be taking over their life.
Treatment for Anxiety
It's important to know that anxiety disorders are treatable, and with the right support, your child can learn to manage their anxiety and lead a happy, fulfilling life. Treatment for anxiety typically involves teaching children new coping strategies and helping them confront their fears in a safe, supportive environment. By practicing new skills and facing their fears, children with anxiety can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours (BFRBs)
Everyone has plucked a hair once in a while or picked at a scab, and it can feel really satisfying to do so. Sometimes though these behaviours can get out of hand and start to cause physical harm, lasting scars, distress and embarrassment. When these behaviours get out of hand, they are known as hair pulling disorder (trichotillomania) or skin-picking disorder excoriation) disorder. These disorders, along with other body-focused habits, such as nail biting or lip biting, are collectively known as Body-Focused Repetitive behaviours (BFRB). Often, children will try to hide these behaviours by wearing long sleeves and pants, or picking body hair that isn’t easily visible. It can be very frustrating for parents to watch their children engage in these behaviour and parents are often confused about why their child can’t stop. You may have tried using rewards, taking away items, or simply gotten angry in an effort to make them stop. Children may often feel nagged and appear agitated or shut down when their parents try to talk to them about these behaviours.
Treatment for BFRPs
Treatment for BFRPs is often complex, as the nature and underlying factors contributing to the behaviour are unique to each individual. Additionally, treatment requires active participation from the child and a willingness to work on reducing the behaviour. Dr. Lisa uses the Comprehensive Model for Behavioral Treatment (ComB) of Trichotillomania and Other Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors to treat these disorders. This is an evidenced-based approach that aims to target all the common factors that contribute to these behaviours.
Emetophobia, also known as a fear of vomiting, sounds benign, and maybe even silly, but to a person experiencing it, emetophobia is very distressing. Emetophobia often starts out small and innocent but can grow to become life-interfering for the child and their family. Your child might avoid situations or places they associate with vomiting, uch as public spaces, certain foods, or even other children who have been sick. They might experience excessive anxiety or panic attacks when confronted with situations that trigger their fear, even if vomiting isn't likely. Sometimes the child starts to develop rituals to try and prevent themselves from getting sick, such as touching certain objects, wearing specific items of clothing, or washing hands excessively. Your child may also frequently ask for reassurance that they are not going to get sick, and no matter how many times you reassure them, they are still afraid. Without treatment, the fear of vomiting can take over your child’s life. But emetophobia doesn’t have to dominate your child’s life. Dr. Lisa is highly skilled at working with youth and their families to overcome this fear and return to a life that is no longer controlled by emetophobia. Using exposure and response prevention and acceptance and commitment therapy, Dr. Lisa helps each child and family overcome their fear and thrive.
Parent Support and Challenging Behaviours
Kids can be challenging at the best of times, but some kids can be especially challenging. Maybe your child struggles following directions, needs a million reminders, lies, is irritable, or has meltdowns over the smallest things. You’ve tried timeouts, you’ve tried taking things away, you try reasoning with them, you try ignoring the problem, and then you starting googling your child’s behaviour to see what is going on. Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or ADHD might come up, and you wonder if that is what is going on with your child. It can feel like you have tried everything and nothing seems to work. Maybe you’ve raised one child with no difficulty, but that same parenting approach just isn’t cutting it with your other child. Maybe it seems like everyone else’s child is easier and you don’t get why what you’re doing isn’t working. Some times our kids require advanced parenting skills. Dr. Lisa is here to help parents refine and advance their parenting skills to improve the parent-child relationship, reduce conflict, and help parents learn to manage their child’s challenging behaviours. Book a free consultation to see if Dr. Lisa is the right fit for you.