Living with Tics: Development and Pilot Examination of a Psychosocial Treatment to Improve Resilience and Coping in Youth with Tics

Grant Type
Grant Year
Institution Location
Institution Organization Name
University of South Florida
Investigators Name
Storch, Eric, PhD

Many youngsters with a tic disorder experience distress about having tics and worry about how others may perceive them. Such symptoms are often more impairing than the tics themselves, and negatively impact on self-concept, functioning and quality of life. Over the past years, pharmacological and behavioral treatments that target the frequency and severity of tics have been developed. Although beneficial for many youngsters, the efficacy of pharmacological therapies is not always sustained, resulting in the youngster having to cope with symptoms on at least an intermittent basis. Although existing psychosocial interventions such as Habit Reversal Therapy are effective for tic management, these may not be helpful in youth with severe, numerous, or complicated tics. In addition, many youth are not able to consistently refrain from tic engagement due to age or comorbid conditions. With these issues in mind, this project will develop and test a new treatment protocol to assist youth with tics to cope better with their condition. There are two study objectives: first, to develop a cognitive-behavior psychotherapy protocol that promotes adaptive coping and resiliency among youth with tics that addresses commonly experienced issues; second, to assess the feasibility of conducting a small randomized controlled trial in youth with a tic disorder. The initial phase of this study will concentrate on developing a treatment protocol by drawing on expert opinion coupled with focus groups with parents and their children with a tic disorder. Based on these results, a preliminary treatment manual will be developed. The second phase will involve a preliminary test of the protocol in a small sample of children. This trial will focus primarily on feasibility (versus efficacy) issues. This pilot study is the initial step toward developing and examining a non-tic specific treatment for a subset of youth with a tic disorder in an effort to improve their quality of life and overall functioning. It is our hope that such a program will build coping skills in youth with tics that will enable them to achieve their goals and minimize tic-related functional impairment. Eric A. Storch, Ph.D., Tanya K. Murphy, M.D. University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, FL Award: $72,172 Commentary: Some children with TS are very self-conscious about their tics, and worry a lot about what other people may think about them and often don’t achieve their full potential. Drs. Storch and Murphy plan to address this issue by developing and ultimately testing a behavioral therapy that will help these youngsters cope with their condition. This therapy will not focus on the tics, but is aimed at reducing the stress associated with having tics. If proven successful, this treatment will empower children with tics to achieve their maximum potential and improve their quality of life. Tourette Association of America Inc. – Research Grant Award 2009-2010