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Child Psychologist

Calgary Child Psychologist and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Child Psychologist Specializing in the Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) often begins in childhood and is defined by various obsessions and compulsions, ranging from mild to severe in an individual’s ability to function. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is characterized by distressing thoughts known as obsessions. It also creates the desire to engage in activities known as compulsions (or rituals). As a result, children and teenagers with OCD typically get trapped in a stressful loop of these thoughts, anxieties, and rituals. There is a stereotype of OCD involving germs, doing repetitive actions (turning the lights on and off several times), and checking (often the locks on a door). While this can exist and is common traits of OCD, it is much more complex and far reaching in its scope and impact than the cultural stereotypes. 

Additionally, teens and children may find it difficult to concentrate at school or home, if they are constantly bombarded by unwanted thoughts. Low-self esteem and isolation is also a common side effect as children or teens feel different or do not want to share their thoughts with others. Relationships may also become impacted as individuals may worry about their relationships or try to hide compulsions from their friends. This can create social avoidance. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of OCD in children and teenagers?

​OCD is divided into two parts: obsessions and compulsions. Some of the obsessions that are common in children and teenagers are often related to the following:

  1. Worry about germs, disease, or even death 

  2. Concerns about things not being "exactly right" or being flawed

  3. Unwanted and unpleasant thoughts or visions of harm to oneself or others

  4. Extreme anxiety about bad occurrences or doing anything wrong

  5. Inappropriate and disturbing sexual ideas or pictures

  6. Unwanted suicidal thoughts

  7. Worries about going against religious beliefs (swearing, sinning, moral behaviours)

  8. Worries about doing actions that may cause damage to others or self 

  9. Believing that certain actions or superstitions may help to prevent terrible things from occurring.

  10. Believing that you are to blame for terrible things that have occurred in the past


Children and teens with OCD may also engage in other actions to reduce the stress from the above obsessions. This could include excessive hand washing, arranging items in a certain sequence, or counting to alleviate the anxiety and discomfort produced by their obsessions. Some young people with OCD cannot be productive because their obsessive activities occupy so much of their time. In it’s essence, the obsessive activity provides brief relief

Frequent compulsions among children and teenagers with OCD include:

  1. Excessive hand washing, bathing, and tooth brushing 

  2.  Rituals such as walking in and out of doors, having to move through places in a certain manner, or rereading, deleting, and rewriting

  3. Checking routines to ensure that an appliance is turned off or a door is secured, as well as checking homework regularly

  4. Hoarding and amassing items of little apparent worth

  5. Cleaning routines for the home or other things

  6. Rituals performed to avoid contact with an "infected" person or item

  7. Rituals of touching

  8. Rituals for avoiding damage to oneself or others

  9. Organizing or ordering things

  10. Rituals of counting 

  11. Rituals of doing things a certain number of times

Co-occurring disorders and OCD

Children and teens with OCD often have co-occurring disorders. It is important for your child’s Psychologist and Pediatrician to assess for the primary issue as well as the one that is creating the most impact. Common co-occuring conditions include:

  1. Anxiety problems

  2. ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)

  3. Depression

  4. Eating Disorders

  5.  Substance Abuse Disorders

What are the treatment options for OCD in children?

The treatment choice for OCD will depend on factors such as your child's age, the symptoms, and severity of the condition. 


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder treatment often consists of a combination of the following:


Cognitive and behavioral therapy (CBT): Cognitive methods help a child recognize and understand their worries. This therapy approach also teaches the children new ways to cope with or reduce their worries.


Exposure Therapy: Working through obsessions and compulsions by exposing oneself to the worrisome thought


Family therapy: Parents have an essential role in every therapeutic process. A child's teacher may also be involved in their care.


How to Assist a Child with OCD

Discuss your concerns with your child: Talk in a positive tone, listen attentively, and show empathy for the situation. Say something relevant to your child's situation, such as, "I notice you adjusting your socks all the time to make them equal. It takes a lot of work to make them feel right, I wonder if that is the OCD thoughts telling you to do that.


Externalize the OCD as something separate from your child. Ask curious questions. 

Make an appointment with a Pediatrician and a Psychologist: Your child's therapist or Pediatrician will be able to point you on the right path. To diagnose OCD, they will examine the symptoms as well as the impact. if they diagnose OCD, discuss treatment options.

Participate in your child's treatment: Part of therapy is educating parents on how to react to their child's Obsessive and Compulsive behaviors. Do research or ask your child’s Psychologist for resources. 

Be patient: Helping your child overcome OCD is a slow and steady process. Creative Sky Psychology supports children and teens with OCD to manage symptoms. We create individualized treatment plans and provide a laddering approach to overcoming OCD. 

Creative Sky Psychology

Creative Sky Psychology supports children, teens, and adults with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Our Psychologists are located in Calgary, Alberta.. We support children and teens to recognize symptoms related to OCD and create meaningful change. We provide counselling and assessments for individuals of all ages at Creative Sky Psychology. Our Assessment Psychologists provide both clinical and educational assessments.  Our Psychologists support individuals with OCD from a strength-based model and provide unique coping strategies. Please call for an initial consultation or book online.

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