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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder—OCD

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OCD typically begins in adolescence. It affects roughly one in two hundred people. OCD is characterized by obsessive thoughts which the individual attempts to appease by performing rituals over and over. These can be simple, such as handwashing or elaborate, such as locking and unlocking a deadbolt no more and no less than 50 times.

OCD behaviors are not habits or even quirks; they are rituals the individual must complete in order to feel normal. These rituals come first; meaning, they disrupt social activities, work, school and relationships. As the child ages, the obsessive thoughts may change. A young child may have recurring fears about intruders, causing him to constantly check the locks on doors and windows. As he gets older, the intruders—in other words the thing over which he has no power—may evolve into something more sophisticated, such as nuclear annihilation or terminal illness.

OCD does run in families but can occur without a family history of the illness. Adolescents with OCD often are embarrassed to discuss their behaviors. They view their inability to stop as weakness. It is imperative parents discuss these behaviors with their son. OCD is common and treatable.


Psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy—CBT, combined with medication is an effective treatment for children and adolescents with OCD. Antidepressants help interrupt the repetitive thinking; CBT can help the teen break the compulsive behavior.

OCDs impact on families

OCD rituals may initially seem like oddities to a parent but the gravity of the situation readily becomes apparent when they realize their son cannot stop performing them. Fear, frustration, exasperation—parents run the gamut of emotion. Some teens with OCD insist family members participate in the rituals—further exacerbating a tense situation.

What parents should do

If parents suspect their son has OCD, they need to get him evaluated by a psychiatrist or psychologist. White River Academy has programs designed for teens with OCD. Each student who comes to our boarding school receives an individualized treatment program. Each student is assigned his own case worker. A child with OCD who attends our academy will develop the skills and confidence to progress in life.

White River Academy

White River Academy provides individual and group counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy and an array of treatment modalities to treat OCD and other mental health issues. Contact our admissions team at 866-520-0905 to find out more about our school, our treatment programs and our curriculum.

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We would like to thank all the wonderful staff at WRA for the great parent weekend. We enjoyed it and felt that we learned valuable insights on Positive Peer Culture and the values we must have and the importance of family commitment to each other...

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