Skip to main content

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Our primary mandate is to provide provincial specialized consultation for children and youth age 6-18 with complex Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and related disorders who have not responded to community treatment resources.
COVID-19 and Children - Information for Parents

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a neuropsychiatric disorder, affecting 1-3 percent of the population. It affects both children and adults and can interfere with daily activities, such as socializing, self-care, and school or work functioning. People with OCD can experience both “obsessions” or “compulsions.”

Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, impulses or fears that pop into the mind and cause distress and anxiety. Compulsions are deliberate behaviours (hand washing, checking, ordering) or mental acts (counting, repeating words) that are often performed to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsessions.

OCD is diagnosed when obsessions or compulsions are present to the extent that they cause significant distress, time loss or impairment of functioning.

Who we treat

In some limited cases, we also provide consultation for children and youth with less complex concerns, in order to meet our multiple mandates of teaching, research, and program development.

In addition, the OCD clinic provides education to families, community clinicians, schools and public health agencies, which includes community education events.

Access to the clinic is by physician referral only and requires the following:

  • Ongoing care and support by a health care provider in the community including at discharge
  • Parent / caregiver involvement

A recent physical exam is recommended.

Services we offer

  • Consultation
  • Assessment
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Education / family support

The clinic is an interdisciplinary team comprising physicians, social work and psychology. Involvement of these professionals is determined by the clinic. Patients cannot be referred directly for assessment from / by these disciplines. Our assessment and treatment process requires the active participation of the child and their parents / caregivers.


Research is conducted to increase our understanding of the etiology and needs of youth with OCD and related disorders, along with their families, and to also inform evidence-based practice. Research on the causation, long-term course and treatment of OCD is an integral aspect of the clinic’s activities. Research on outcome of group treatment, pharmacological studies, and other new research projects will also be integrated into clinic activities. All research is done with informed consent and protocols have been reviewed by the University of British Columbia Clinical Research Ethics Board.

Current Research Projects

Are you interested in brain research? Want to help us learn more about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? Please find below a brief description of some of our studies.

1. “A Study of Neurocognition in Pediatric OCD, At-Risk Siblings and Healthy Controls,” for your child and / or their siblings between 8-18 years old. This will involve a 2-hour assessment looking at how youth with OCD and their siblings solve problems. What do you receive? A gift card and written report regarding the results.

2. “A Neuroimaging Study of Pediatric OCD, At-Risk Siblings and Healthy Controls,” for your child and / or their siblings between 10-18 years old. This will involve a 1-hour MRI scan looking at how the brain functions in youth with OCD and their siblings. MRI is non-invasive and does not involve radiation or x-rays. Your choice of gift card for your time and a picture of your brain to take home.

3. “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Registry and DNA Repository,” for your child, sibling(s), and parent(s) of OCD-affected youth and their parents. The registry is an ongoing database (sets of questionnaires) that will help track any changes in your child’s OCD symptoms and how these symptoms may affect the family. The DNA repository is one-time only collection of spit or blood from your child and parent(s). We are looking for OCD genes with the goal of improving treatment outcomes.

4. “Sleep and Activity Study.”  This study examines the frequency of sleep problems and decreased activity level in children and youth with OCD. It involves wearing a wrist exercise tracker for one week. Participants will receive a gift card after completing the study.

To learn more about the Pediatric OCD Program studies and to discuss your eligibility, please leave us a confidential message at 604-875-2000 (ext. 6428 or ext. 3068).


During treatment

Initial Assessment Appointment

Initial assessment appointments typically take place over 1 full day or 2 half days. The psychology assessment is scheduled from 8:30am to 12:30pm and the psychiatric assessment from 1:45pm to 3:15pm. OCD team feedback on diagnosis and treatment options takes place between 3:30pm to 4:00pm.

Psychology Assessment

The diagnostic psychology assessment is dictated by the team psychologist. This psychology assessment report is intended to be read in conjunction with the subsequent psychiatric and potential social work assessments.

Psychiatric Assessment

The psychiatric assessment includes diagnosis, treatment recommendations and follow-up.

Family Meeting

Following the psychiatric assessment, a brief team meeting is held to discuss diagnosis and management options. The psychologist, psychiatrist and potentially, the social worker, then meet with the family to discuss findings and recommendations.

OCD Education and Resources

Patients and their families are given information about OCD and a resource list at the time of assessment. 

Group Therapy

Outpatient group therapy is provided on a regular basis for patients who have been assessed by our clinic and are deemed appropriate. Our goal is to create groups for treatment, education and support for both youth and families.


When a child / youth has been booked for an assessment, questionnaires regarding developmental and family history and symptom checklists are sent to the parents / caregivers and child to complete online. A request is also made to the parents / caregivers for all relevant previous assessment reports to be returned with questionnaires so that these are available for review by the clinician prior to the appointment. 

After assessment

After our assessment and consultation is complete, children / youth and families who require long-term intervention may be directed to resources in the community.

Tab Heading
Tab Heading
SOURCE: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Children's Hospital. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2020 Provincial Health Services Authority.