Tackle your Tics: pilot findings of a brief, intensive group-based exposure therapy program for children with tic disorders

A. P. Heijerman-Holtgrefe, C. W.J. Verdellen, J. M.T.M. van de Griendt, L. P.L. Beljaars, K. J. Kan, D. Cath, P. J. Hoekstra, C. Huyser, E. M.W.J. Utens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
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Tourette syndrome (TS) and other chronic tic disorders (CTD) are prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders, which can have a huge burden on families and society. Behavioral treatment is a first-line intervention for tic disorders. Despite demonstrated efficacy, tic reduction and utilization rates of behavioral treatment remain relatively low. Patient associations point to an urgent need for easy-to-undergo treatments that focus both on tic reduction and improvement of quality of life. To enhance treatment outcome and overcome treatment barriers, this pilot study’s aim was to investigate the feasibility and preliminary results of a brief, intensive group-based treatment. Tackle your Tics is a 4-day intensive and comprehensive group-based program for children and adolescents (9–17 years) with a tic disorder, consisting of exposure and response prevention (ERP) treatment and additional supporting components, such as coping strategies, relaxing activities and parent support. Assessments were performed pre- and post-treatment and at 2 months follow-up, to test outcomes on tic severity and quality of life, and explore premonitory urges, emotional and behavioral functioning and treatment satisfaction (N = 14, of whom 13 completed the treatment). Parents and children rated this treatment positive on a treatment satisfaction questionnaire. On tic severity (Yale Global Tic Severity Scale) and quality of life (Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome Quality of Life Scale for children and adolescents), improvements between pre-treatment and follow-up were found. Intensive ERP in group format is promising as a feasible treatment to improve both tic severity as well as quality of life. Larger controlled trials are needed to establish its effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-473
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number3
Early online date20 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Tourettes Action (Grant number 1003317) in the UK. All participating centers contributed financially by the hours of investment of the project members and further costs. Acknowledgements

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).


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