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Online therapy key to helping young people with OCD

Media release

Preliminary findings from new Curtin University research has reinforced the importance of online therapy in significantly reducing the symptoms and severity of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in young people.

The study looked at the effectiveness of the internet cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) intervention OCD? Not Me! program in young people aged between 12-18 years, and demonstrated significant reductions in OCD symptoms and severity in participants following the completion of the program.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Clare Rees from Curtin’s School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, said OCD was a potentially disabling psychological condition which affected up to three per cent of children and adolescents.

“The disorder is associated with high levels of comorbidity and significant psychosocial impairment such as difficulties concentrating at school and completing homework, disruption in household routines, and social functioning,” Associate Professor Rees said.

“Early intervention is vital because when young people with OCD do not receive adequate treatment, they are at risk of experiencing continued and escalated symptoms into adulthood.

“Given the current limitations in the acceptability, availability and accessibility of mental health care for young people with OCD, the results show just how important self-guided iCBT is to broaden treatment access to this group.”

Feedback from participants and parent/caregivers captured the success of the self-guided online OCD? Not Me! program.

“I liked how the program always made you feel good about yourself. It also made you feel optimistic and on top of the world,” one participant said.

“My son told me this course has helped him dramatically. I have noticed the change in him and he also feels the change in himself. He said his compulsions and obsessions have reduced and he is able to cope a lot better. He is a lot calmer and a lot more focused,” a parent/caregiver said.

“This project has potential to really impact people’s lives and we hope that by sharing some of the feedback we can encourage community involvement and raise enough funds to keep the OCD? Not Me! project going,” Associate Professor Rees said.

The research was funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Health.

The full research paper, titled Online Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Treatment: Preliminary results of the OCD? Not Me! self-guided internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy program for young people, can be viewed at http://mental.jmir.org/2016/3/e29/.