CBIT: An Alternative to Medication for Tics
Although new treatments often bring great excitement and hope, some in the TS community are concerned that promoting behavioral approaches for treating tics may have negative consequences. There is concern that families, co-workers, and teachers will read about CBIT and conclude that tics are willful and easily controlled. We have known for years that this conclusion is incorrect and harmful to people with tics. Expecting people to “stop ticcing” or treating them as if tics are done “on purpose” increases distress and triggers efforts to voluntarily suppress tics, which is ineffective and leads to greater impairment. While there are likely to be people who misunderstand or misuse a powerful tool such as CBIT, we still need to let patients and families of those with TS know about CBIT so that they have choices. It’s important to understand what CBIT is and isn’t, what it can and can’t do and how behavioral interventions are helpful in reducing tic severity.
It is important to note that many of these strategies are already commonly used in the management of TS symptoms. Upon hearing a description of CBIT, many adults with TS report that they have come up with similar strategies to manage their tics. CBIT takes the best of these ideas and blends them with strategies that allow people to quickly learn the techniques.