Psychoeducation focused on family accommodation: a practical intervention for parents of children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder

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Francesco Demaria, Maria Pontillo, Maria Cristina Tata, Prisca Gargiulo, Francesco Mancini, Stefano Vicari (2021): Psychoeducation focused on family accommodation: a practical intervention for parents of children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder. In: Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 47 (224), 2021, ISSN: 1824-7288.

Abstract

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a neuropsychiatric disorder that is frequently diagnosed in children and adolescents. In pediatric OCD, family plays an important role in the development and maintenance of the disease. In this relationship, both genetic and behavioral factors, such as parental modeling and family accommodation, are significant. Parental modeling concerns the daily enactment of dysfunctional behavioral patterns by a parent with OCD, which may influence children. Family accommodation, in contrast, describes the direct participation of parents in their child’s compulsive rituals, by modifying daily routines or by facilitating avoidance of OCD triggers, to decrease the child’s distress and time spent executing compulsions. Approximately 80–90% of the relatives of OCD patients actively participate in patients’ rituals. The literature demonstrates that a high level of family accommodation is associated with OCD symptom severity, reduced response to cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT), and a higher risk of therapy dropout.

Despite this, no studies have aimed at delineating practical guidance for psychotherapists to support parents in reducing family accommodation.

The main aim of this paper is to propose a psychoeducation intervention focused on cognitive-behavioral strategies to help families to manage their child’s OCD behaviors without enacting dysfunctional family accommodation behaviors in order to support their child’s successful therapy.

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