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Bradley Hospital Opens Intensive Program for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder


OCDBradley Hospital, the nation’s first psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents, recently launched a new program aimed at helping children with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a disorder that affects one in 200 children nationwide.

The Intensive Program for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, the first of its kind on the East Coast, uses a milieu-based model to treat kids who experience a significant disruption to their daily lives due to OCD and obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders.

The evidence-based program helps children, from five to 18 years old, alleviate symptoms, such as extreme anxiety, unreasonable thoughts and fears, and repetitive behaviors or rituals, all while improving daily functioning. The program also helps kids stay involved in school and family activities.

“For children and teens with severe OCD, the disruption to their daily lives can be profound,” said Jennifer Freeman, PhD, clinical co-director of the Intensive Program for OCD. “This program can be an effective care option for youth who have not responded to traditional outpatient treatment or who lack specialized OCD services where they live.”

In addition to Freeman, the program is led by a team of child behavioral experts, including medical director Brady Case, MD, and clinical co-director Abbe Garcia, PhD. Freeman and Garcia also co-direct the Pediatric Anxiety Research Clinic at the Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center.

Patients are treated utilizing a specific form of cognitive behavioral therapy called exposure and response prevention (EX/RP), which has been found to be the most effective form of treatment for OCD. This therapy strengthens a child’s ability to manage anxiety by helping him or her gradually face fears and ultimately reduce the repetitive rituals of OCD.

Patients in the program receive treatment after school for daily three-hour sessions at Bradley Hospital, as well as twice weekly EX/RP sessions at their home, school and other community settings. The integration of community- and hospital-based treatment helps to avoid academic and social disruption, and help children and teens return to family life as quickly as possible.

“Every day challenges for children and teens with severe OCD can include school avoidance, withdrawal from family and friends, loss of interest in activities and problems eating, sleeping or bathing,” said Freeman. “Being able to offer an intensive intervention that will help these kids go back to ‘just being kids’ as soon as possible is invaluable.”

The Intensive Program for OCD creates individualized, age-appropriate treatment plans for each patient, including individual therapy, and family, group and milieu therapy. Parents and family members contribute to this plan, starting with the patient’s evaluation and throughout treatment. Clinical staff also work closely with the school system to develop reintegration plans for a successful return to school.

For more information about the Intensive Program for OCD at Bradley Hospital, please visit  or call 401-432-1516.