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Tackle your Tics

Posted on 22 June 2020 by Pippa McClounan


A summary of a recent research project into how successful behavioural therapy for tics can be delivered in intensive group sessions over a short time frame.

Behavioural interventions are recognised as a front-line therapy for TS and are often preferred by both children and adults to pharmaceutical-based treatments. However, shortage of qualified therapists and lack of service provision often mean at best long waiting times for treatment and at worst no availability at all of behavioural therapies.

The traditional format for delivery of behavioural therapies is weekly, individual, face-to-face sessions over a 12-week period. Tackle your Tics is a pilot study, funded by Tourettes Action, to investigate the possibility of delivering the same treatment ‘dose’ but over an intensive short period in group sessions. The behavioural therapy employed was exposure and response prevention (ERP). If successful, the benefit of such programmes would be improvements in a shorter time period and the convenience of travelling for fewer consecutive days. Importantly, because children and families attend together for whole days at a time, other complementary activities can be offered such as coping strategy workshops and parent support groups.

The research, the results of which have been published in ‘European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’, was conducted by academics at a number of universities and other institutions in the Netherlands.

Tackle your Tics was conducted in two groups of 6-8 children between the ages of 9-17 years over three intensive days of therapy and related workshops and one follow-up day a week later. The children were tested on tic severity and on quality of life impact before the programme began and again following the programme.

The researchers found a significant reduction in both tic severity and quality of life impairment following the sessions, although the reductions were not as great as would be expected from individual therapy delivered in the traditional weekly format. But they believe there is scope to strengthen the effectiveness of the short-form group approach with the hope it may be capable of delivering a similar level of impact.

Tackle your Tics suggests that intensive short-form behavioural group therapy may hold out the hope, by using therapeutic resource more efficiently and by making access to these therapies quicker and more readily available.

You can download the full article (see right). 

Authors: A. P. Heijerman‑Holtgrefe1,2,3 · C. W. J. Verdellen4,5 · J. M. T. M. van de Griendt5 · L. P. L. Beljaars1,6 · K. J. Kan7 · D. Cath8,9 · P. J. Hoekstra10 · C. Huyser11 · E. M. W. J. Utens7,11,12

We consult with leading health experts and professionals in the education sector, and draw upon the latest research, to bring you information and resources for managing your TS.  Some treatments and therapeutic approaches aren't for everyone, and with each being approximately 50% effective, it's important that every individual makes choices for themselves or their child, based on their personal experience. By presenting a broad range of approaches and treatments to manage TS, our goal is to help you find the mix of treatment and approaches that work for you.

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