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OCD Support

At Act to Connect our highly trained behaviour therapists are equipped to help young people with OCD break free from the spiral of compulsions and avoidance that can dominate their lives.

For children and young people with OCD the overwhelming noise of racing thoughts, unrelenting emotions, and frightening bodily sensations can feel like an insurmountable barrier to happiness and freedom. In response the young person gets stuck in spirals of rituals, compulsions and avoidance that have significant social, psychological and academic costs for the young person. Without effective OCD therapy this can go on for months or years.

As we are the only behaviour therapists in Northern Ireland specialising in evidence-based approaches to OCD, such as Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), we are uniquely placed to help your child or teenager face their fears and conquer their OCD.

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Who we help

We have supported children from as young as 4 years who are just starting to experience intrusive thoughts and develop compulsions, to teenagers and young people who have often lived with their OCD for many years.

In addition, we have supported many parents whose child or teenager with OCD are not ready themselves to engage with therapy. Well researched programmes like the SPACE programme (Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions) have shown the impact that parent coaching can be just as effective as direct therapy in helping a young person cope with their anxiety and re-engage with life and the activities that bring them joy.

Unfortunately OCD has a high rate of comorbidity with Autism, and a lot of the young people we support have co-occurring diagnosis of Autism and OCD. We specialise in a neuroaffirmative approach to OCD treatment for individuals on the spectrum.

Our team of therapists provide in-person support to families across Northern Ireland, in the greater Belfast area and anywhere in County Down from Newry, to Newcastle, to Newtownards. Online support can be provided anywhere in Ireland, the UK or Internationally.

Take a look at our case studies to learn more about some children and young people who we have supported to overcome their anxiety and re-engage with their life.

If you would like to access support as a parent, visit our 'Parent Support' page for more information on individual and group support models.

In addition to children/young adults and their parents/carers, we also provide anxiety support and education services to groups and professionals working with and supporting children and young people.
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OCD Therapy Options

We provide both in-person and online support. In-person services have the advantages of both modelling and hands on coaching. Online services can be a more discrete and convenient form of coaching and therapy for some. Our 1:1 model involve working closely with individuals and their families to develop personalised treatment plans that are tailored to their unique needs.

As well as our individualised, tailored 1:1 models you can choose from a range of group training and discovery sessions for general information and training aimed at parents and professionals who support children with OCD.

Our specialised support services for children and teenagers with OCD and their families include:

ACT and ERP for OCD

ERP stands for exposure and response prevention and ACT stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and both are effective in supporting children and young people who are struggling with moderate levels of OCD which is impacting their ability to engage with and enjoy every day activities as much as they once did.  Our therapist typically meets with the young person once per week to work with them on learning to recognise their triggers, intrusive thoughts and core fears and develop strategies to manage them. Additional meetings every few weeks will be held with parents to provide guidance on how to support their child in their journey of learning to navigate their OCD and get their life back. If you wish to know more book a free chat, email or call us now to start your journey with your very own OCD expert.

Intensive Therapy for OCD

This option is designed for children and young people whose OCD has spread into all areas of their life, from school to friendships to leisure activities, and they are stuck in a spiral of panic and avoidance that has significant social, psychological and academic costs for the young person and the whole family. Sessions will be a combination of ERP and ACT therapy with a senior therapist, and community-based ERP session with a behaviour therapist in order to provide hands on support in facing their fears and re-engaging with daily life.  Guidance will be provided to parents in how to support their young person effectively during this process.  If you wish to know more book a free chat, email or call us now to start your journey with your very own OCD expert.

Parent Coaching with SPACE

SPACE stands for Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions and is a parent led treatment programme for children and adolescents with anxiety, OCD and related problems. It is unique in showing significant improvement in childhood anxiety through working exclusively with parents. SPACE, and Acceptance and Commitment Training for Parents, are two evidence-based approaches that will help parents learn how to support their child to grow in confidence and face their fears in a supportive and gentle manner. If you wish to know more book a free chat, email or call us now to start your journey with your very own OCD expert.

Training and Workshops

Our group models allow you to collaborate with other individuals and families to come to a clearer understanding of OCD and the challenges it brings, both for the individual and their family members. 

Our discovery sessions and workshops allow for more general information and guidance on support strategies for specific goals/domains.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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We work through two primary therapies proven to be highly effective for treating OCD, ERP and ACT. ERP i.e. Exposure and Response prevention, involves gradually supporting your child to face their OCD triggers and help them learn healthier ways to respond rather than rituals and compulsions. ACT i.e. acceptance and commitment therapy, helps your child learn to accept the things they cannot control, to stay mindful and self-compassionate despite the strong emotions they are experiencing and still move towards the values and goals which are important to them.

If your child is experiencing distressing intrusive thoughts and obsessions, and is then engaging in compulsive behaviours that intervene with daily life and functioning, it may be a sign that they would be benefit from therapy. We offer a free online initial consultation where we can discuss with you the current impact off your child’s symptoms and whether therapy is the right choice at this time.

There is a significant body of research showing that as a child’s OCD and anxiety grow their family typically slip into accommodating and even participating in their compulsions in order to try and help support their child. Unfortunately, though accommodating compulsions is intended to ease their child distress, this has been found to often feed the growth of OCD as the young person becomes less and less able to self-regulate or to face their fears. With specialist support it is possible to gently and confidently support your child without activity participating in rituals or compulsions, therefore being actively involved in therapy as a parent will have a significant impact on your child's progress in therapy. Your contributions are invaluable in creating a tailored plan that will work for your child and your family.

It is not uncommon for children and young people to feel resistance or find therapy challenging. Our experienced OCD therapists will work hard to build rapport and trust. When appropriate they will look to incorporate play and games to engage your child’s interest, and most importantly spend time getting to know your child’s priorities, goals and values to help connect the work they are doing in session with moving them closer to the priorities they have for their own life, empowering them to take ownership of the future they want. Most children come to recognise the value of the work, even when finding it difficult.

At the same time, some children simply refuse to engage with therapy and it is important to respect that and not put pressure and risk alienating them. Instead, we can work with parents following the SPACE (supportive parenting for anxious childhood emotions) programme, an evidence based protocol which has been shown to be as effective as direct therapy in reducing the impact of OCD on a child’s life.