The effect of transdiagnostic emotion-focused treatment on obsessive-compulsive symptoms in children and adolescents

Ashley M. Shaw, Elizabeth R. Halliday, Jill Ehrenreich-May

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) commonly onsets in childhood. Given OCD's high comorbidity with other emotional disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety), transdiagnostic treatment that aims to enhance youth's tolerance and regulation of various negative emotions before starting exposure may facilitate simultaneous treatment of multiple comorbid symptoms. The current study examined the effects of transdiagnostic treatment in an open trial of clinical youth. Children and adolescents (N = 170) with any primary emotional disorder (e.g., an anxiety, depressive, or obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorder) started Unified Protocols for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders in Children and Adolescents (UP–C/A) treatment. Youth (M age = 12; 50% female) were primarily white and Hispanic/Latinx. Youth and their parent(s) completed an intake and follow-up assessments (8, 16, and 24 weeks). The outcome measures were self- and parent-reported obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OCS), treatment engagement, and client satisfaction. Over the course of the UP-C/A, youths' OCS decreased significantly, across reporters, regardless of child age or gender. These findings provide preliminary support for utilizing the UP-C/A to treat OCS in youth. While these results do not imply equivalence with existent, exposure and response prevention treatments for pediatric OCD, it is possible that the flexible structure of the UP-C/A may be applied successfully to OCS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100552
JournalJournal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Pediatric
  • Transdiagnostic
  • Treatment engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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