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Children With OCD, Anxiety and Tic Disorders Receive Treatment at New Specialty Clinic

New York (Jul 5, 2011)

Children and adolescents with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety or tic disorders are being treated in a new specialized outpatient clinic at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center – one of the only programs of its kind in the New York metro area.

In addition to a clinic in Manhattan, the Pediatric OCD, Anxiety and Tic Disorders (POCAT) program will offer a unique, day camp-style intensive summer treatment program situated in White Plains, N.Y., at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. The POCAT program is co-led by pediatric psychologist Dr. Shannon M. Bennett and psychiatrist Dr. Justin Mohatt.

Shannon Bennett, Ph.D
Shannon Bennett, Ph.D

"Anxiety is a normal part of growing up, but when it interferes with school, friendships or family life, we recommend parents seek treatment for their child. If a family is going to extreme measures to accommodate their child's anxiety, or if their child has a problem with involuntary movements or vocalizations, we can offer help," says Dr. Bennett, a pediatric psychologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Justin Mohatt, M.D.
Justin Mohatt, M.D.

As many as 20 percent of children may struggle with anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder and specific phobias. OCD (a disorder marked by intrusive unwanted thoughts and associated rituals, habits or routines) and the tic disorders (a set of conditions characterized by involuntary motor movements or vocalizations, including Tourette's Syndrome) are rarer, affecting between 1 and 3 percent of children. "Children often have more than one of these disorders, so our clinic is set up to serve children with these complex symptoms," says Dr. Bennett. The POCAT program offers a range of evidence-based treatment options, including relaxation training, cognitive and behavioral therapy and exposure treatments for children with OCD and anxiety, as well as new and emerging behavioral approaches for tic disorders and trichotillomania.

Treatment programs are customized to meet the child's needs. "For some children, regular outpatient visits are effective. Other children need treatment multiple days a week," says Dr. Mohatt, a pediatric psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. "We also offer flexibility in treatment planning, rapid assessment in crisis situations, quick access to your clinicians at all times, and a high level of privacy and discretion."

POCAT Summer Program

This summer, beginning July 11, children in need of a more intensive treatment experience will be invited to the POCAT Summer Intensive Program, located on the campus of NewYork-Presbyterian/Westchester in White Plains. The program will offer morning and afternoon therapy sessions, with a one-hour lunch break, five days a week for one or two weeks.

"Summer vacation is a good opportunity for children to get the therapy they need and make some major progress. In addition, the intensive short-term nature of the program provides an opportunity for families from further away to receive evidence-based treatment that does not interfere with their child's school schedule," says Dr. Bennett.

Parents play a key role in the therapeutic process, explains Dr. Mohatt. "We work with moms and dads to ensure that they are aware of the progress their child is making, as well as the specific skills their child is learning. We also provide evidence-based approaches parents can use to support and guide their children. Our goal is for parents to be knowledgeable of therapeutic principles and build on the gains their child makes in treatment."

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