South Calgary
(403) 889-5419

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy for Childhood OCD

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition that affects nearly 1 in every 200 children, and often causes significant distress and interference in the day-to-day life of children and their families. Fortunately, research-backed treatments like Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) offer a powerful way to overcome the debilitating symptoms of OCD. At Launch Psychology, I am committed to guiding children and their families through the challenges of OCD with personalized, empathetic care.

What exactly is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)?

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is considered one of the most effective treatments for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in children. It is a type of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) specifically tailored to treat OCD. The core focus of ERP is to assist individuals in confronting their fears and anxieties (exposure) while resisting the compulsion to engage in ritualistic behaviours (response prevention). By gradually exposing themselves to their fears and learning to tolerate the discomfort, children with OCD can significantly diminish the intensity and frequency of their symptoms.

I follow an evidence-based, structured process to ensure the most effective treatment for each child:

  1. Assessment: Our journey together starts with a comprehensive assessment of the child’s OCD symptoms, their severity, and the impact on daily life. This information enables us to craft a customized treatment plan addressing your child’s unique requirements. The first session is typically held just with parents, and will give us an opportunity to discuss the impact that OCD has had on your child, and your family, along with a full medical and developmental history.
  2. Education: Understanding OCD and the treatment journey is vital for successful therapy. Together with your child, we will learn all about OCD, how it operates, common symptoms (you are not alone!), and the role of ERP in overcoming OCD.
  3. Identifying triggers: Next, we work together to pinpoint the specific situations, thoughts, or objects that provoke your child’s obsessions and compulsions. These triggers are then organized into a hierarchy, or, ladder, based on their anxiety-inducing potential.
  4. Exposure exercises: The bulk of our work together will be to gently guide your child through a series of controlled, step-by-step exposures to face their identified triggers. By facing these fears without engaging in compulsive behaviours, your child learns that their anxieties are manageable and that their feared outcomes seldom, if ever, occur. ERP is hard work (so is OCD!), but together we will create games and activities to make the exposures feel less like work, and more like fun challenges (think of fighting a boss in your favourite video game, or winning your Provincial tournament!). I will also work with you and your child to develop strategies to help resist compulsive behaviours between sessions. These may involve cognitive techniques for challenging irrational thoughts, mindfulness exercises to enhance focus, and relaxation techniques to alleviate anxiety.
  5. Progress monitoring: Throughout the ERP journey, you and I will work together to closely monitor your child’s progress, fine-tuning our treatment plan as required. 
  6. Maintenance and relapse prevention: Once your child has made significant progress in managing their OCD symptoms, I will help them develop a maintenance plan to ensure their continued success. This plan may include stress management strategies, recognizing early signs of relapse, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. 

My approach to ERP is adaptable, personalized, and grounded in evidence, ensuring that your child receives the most effective treatment possible.  By partnering with your family, you will be empowered to play an active role in your child’s recovery, fostering resilience and enduring change to last their lifetime.

If your child is struggling with OCD, please reach out to me at Launch Psychology. I am here to help guide you and your child on the path to wellness. Contact me today to schedule a free 10-minute consultation and launch your child on their journey toward a brighter future.