Behavior therapy for tics in children: Acute and long-term effects on psychiatric and psychosocial functioning

Douglas W. Woods, John C. Piacentini, Lawrence Scahill, Alan L. Peterson, Sabine Wilhelm, Susanna Chang, Thilo Deckersbach, Joseph McGuire, Matt Specht, Christine A. Conelea, Michelle Rozenman, James Dzuria, Haibei Liu, Sue Levi-Pearl, John T. Walkup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Children (n = 126) ages 9 to 17 years with chronic tic or Tourette disorder were randomly assigned to receive either behavior therapy or a control treatment over 10 weeks. This study examined acute effects of behavior therapy on secondary psychiatric symptoms and psychosocial functioning and long-term effects on these measures for behavior therapy responders only. Baseline and end point assessments conducted by a masked independent evaluator assessed several secondary psychiatric symptoms and measures of psychosocial functioning. Responders to behavior therapy at the end of the acute phase were reassessed at 3-month and 6-month follow-up. Children in the behavior therapy and control conditions did not differentially improve on secondary psychiatric or psychosocial outcome measures at the end of the acute phase. At 6-month posttreatment, positive response to behavior therapy was associated with decreased anxiety, disruptive behavior, and family strain and improved social functioning. Behavior therapy is a tic-specific treatment for children with tic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)858-865
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Child Neurology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Tourette disorder
  • behavior therapy
  • secondary outcomes
  • tics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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