2021 Jenike Young Investigator Award

Optimization of parent-led exposure delivery in pediatric OCD

Erin O’Connor, PhD

Pediatric Anxiety Research Center at Bradley Hospital (Providence, RI)

Award Amount: $50,000

When children develop OCD, the most effective treatment available for them is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with exposure and response prevention (ERP). Children engage in exposure work where they intentionally trigger their fears (or engage in activities that are likely to trigger those fears) and prevent themselves from engaging in compulsive rituals meant to reduce or eliminate their anxiety. Most exposure work occurs outside of the therapist’s office, with parents often deeply involved in helping their children.

Dr. O’Connor and her team are training 30 parents in the essentials of ERP, and testing this training’s effectiveness. The hope is that, through this training, parents will become better equipped to guide their children through exposures at home, and will be able to help children engage in a greater quantity of high-quality exposures, leading to better treatment outcomes.