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School-Based Interventions : Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Interventions for Obsessive Thoughts

  1. Establish acceptable teacher comments to "unstick" the student when he/she is obsessing

    With the student and parents, identify useful statements to break an obsessive cycle ("Move to your seat on 3 -- 1, 2, 3." "Now think about your coach -- what would he/she say to your "rut," "stuck moments?").
  2. Allow the student to use an "interrupter" when in a "rut"

    Allow the student to wear and snap a rubber band on his/her wrist to interrupt the obsessions.
  3. Identify prompts or special words that can be used to interrupt obsessions

    With the student and parents, identify "mantra" words ("stop", "arrow," "conquer").
  4. Allow the student to dictate or tape record if he/she cannot touch the pencil or paper

    Teacher or voice dictation software can "transcribe" the student's ideas to avoid touching/erasing the paper.
  5. If seeing certain words cannot be tolerated by the student, help the student cover up those distressing words

    Allow the student to use a cut-out window in a piece of paper to cover the distressing words yet still be able to see the other words on the page. top

Specialized Instruction

  • Help the student evaluate the evidence for his/her negative conclusions

    The student says "I can't touch this test because germs are on it." Ask the student: "did you get sick last time you touched a test? Has anyone you know gotten sick from touching a test paper?"
  • Challenge the student's negative cognitions

    The student says "I cannot stop thinking about someone being hurt." Ask the student: "when have these thoughts caused anyone harm?"
  • Personify the student's distressing thoughts

    The student says: "I can't stop thinking about germs." Ask the student: "how much time do you spend every day with Germy? How much time does Germy keep you from playing with your friends?"
  • Help the student examine other perspectives

    The student says "everybody worries about germs, I'm not the only one." Ask the student: "how does your best friend/someone you admire/Spiderman fight off germs?"
  • Encourage positive self-talk

    The student says "I have to go to the bathroom to wash my hands." Have the student practice saying "I can use hand sanitizer at my desk instead of going to the bathroom to wash my hands. Hand sanitizer cleans germs just as well as handwashing." top
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