Harvard Mental Health Letter

In Brief: Psychotherapy for early childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder

In Brief

Psychotherapy for early childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder

A small randomized trial at the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center provides evidence that family-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may help many children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to achieve remission from symptoms.

The researchers enrolled 42 children with OCD, ages 5 to 8, who were randomly assigned to receive 12 sessions of family-based CBT or family-based relaxation treatment.

Roughly three in four of the young participants completed the 14-week study. The CBT intervention proved significantly more effective than relaxation therapy: 69% of the children who completed CBT treatment achieved remission, compared with 20% of those who completed the relaxation intervention.

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