New Adolescent Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Program Addresses an Increased Need for Specialized Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy in Chicago Suburbs

In response to the growing need for targeted clinical services to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other anxiety disorders in adolescents, Compass Health Center is launching its Adolescent OCD and Complex Anxiety Disorder Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient (PHP/IOP) program at its Oak Brook location on Sept. 6, 2022. The goal of this new program is to provide specialized, evidence-based treatment for OCD and anxiety disorders among adolescents ages 13-18 in the Western Suburbs.  

“Since settling into the community over the past year, we’ve seen more and more adolescents and their families in need of specialized services to treat OCD anxiety disorders including but not limited to social anxiety, school anxiety, and school refusal,” said Katrina Shannon, LMFT, Director of Adolescent Program, Compass Health Center – Oak Brook. “We have seen the positive impact and outcomes of our adolescent OCD programming at both our Northbrook and Chicago locations and are eager to provide this effective and engaging treatment in Oak Brook.” 

OCD is a mental health diagnosis in which people experience recurring thoughts, ideas, and sensations (obsessions) that make them feel a strong urge to repeat specific actions or behaviors (compulsions). If not properly managed, these actions and behaviors can significantly interfere with an individual’s ability to function in their daily life. Complex Anxiety refers to those conditions/disorders that research shows best respond to Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) as a treatment modality. These conditions include OCD, Social Anxiety, Panic Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorders, Phobias, and Illness Anxiety Disorder. 

OCD and anxiety disorders cause problems, not because they make people feel anxious, but because of how we as humans tend to respond to anxiety, by avoiding what causes the anxiety. This avoidance ends up causing more problems than it solves and results in deteriorating relationships, skipping school, academic difficulties, and family conflict. ERP systematically decreases the avoidance triggered by anxiety and prompts the patients to build more meaning and purpose in their lives, even if it requires them to feel anxious in the process. 

For those with OCD and anxiety disorders, the effects of the pandemic worsened symptoms, Time Magazine reports. “New research shows that OCD symptoms have gotten more severe for many people during the pandemic, and new diagnoses have increased.” In addition, a BMC Psychiatry study in 2020 found that nearly 45% of young people ages 7 to 21 experienced a worsening of overall OCD symptoms within the first pandemic year. 

“With the loss of their routines and their social lives, many adolescents expectedly struggled with their mental health during the pandemic. For teens with OCD or anxiety diagnoses, specialized treatment including an exposure plan is key to positive treatment outcomes,” said Meg Hoffman, LCSW, Associate Director of Adolescent OCD and Complex Anxiety Program, Compass Health Center – Northbrook. “Adolescents in our OCD Complex Anxiety Program learn evidence-based coping skills, participate in exposure and process groups, and engage in individual exposure therapy. Each patient works with a treatment team, including a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner, an individual therapist, a family therapist, and, during the school year, an education specialist toward their unique and mutually-established treatment plan goals.” 

Compass’s Adolescent OCD Complex Anxiety Program (PHP/IOP) provides therapy modalities rooted in daily ERP as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and habit reversal training. Adolescents attend group therapy sessions and meet daily with an exposure therapist to address symptoms and triggers leading to avoidance and compulsions. Through these evidence-based therapies, adolescents learn to tolerate distressing thoughts and physical sensations so that they can more fully and meaningfully engage in their daily lives. Programming is now available at all Compass onsite locations. Visit Compass Health Center’s website or call now for an intake.  

Source: Compass Health Center