Services We Provide

OCD Intensive Outpatient Program

What is the Intensive Outpatient Program for obsessive compulsive disorder?

three kiddos looking at the cameraOur program offers therapy 3 hours per day, 4 times a week to help kids with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) break their cycle of fearful thoughts and repeated behaviors. We expose your child to what they fear and teach them different ways to respond. This is called exposure and response prevention (E/RP). Research shows this is very effective. We teach caregivers how to do exposure exercises at home daily with your child which is an essential part of the program.

Most youths attend the OCD Intensive Outpatient Program for 10 to 14 weeks. The program meets at the Seattle Children's Magnuson Clinic, which is located a mile north of the main hospital campus.

Who can this program help?

Children and teens with OCD worry excessively that something is wrong, dirty or could hurt them or that they are doing something wrong. These worries (obsessions) make youth with OCD repeat the same behaviors over and over (compulsions) to cope with their anxiety.

Our OCD Intensive Outpatient Program helps children and teens age 11 to 18 (or senior in high school) diagnosed with OCD who have not been able to make progress in regular outpatient treatment and who have a parent or guardian able to attend each session (3 hours a day, 4 days a week) for the entire program.

The program may be a match for your child’s needs if at least one of the following is true:

  • They have tried therapy weekly for at least 10 sessions, have not made significant progress, and continue to have severe symptoms.
  • They are at risk for inpatient psychiatric hospitalization or psychiatric residential treatment due to severe OCD.
  • They have been in an inpatient psychiatric unit or residential treatment continue to have severe OCD, need more intensive services, and are at risk to be hospitalized again due to severe OCD.

What’s special about Seattle Children’s OCD Intensive Outpatient Program?

Experts in our Mood and Anxiety Program will treat your child. We are very experienced at diagnosing and treating children and teens with OCD using this approach:

  • Evidence-based treatment
    • We provide cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for children and teens with OCD. Our main focus is exposure and response prevention (E/RP). During therapy, we expose your child to the thoughts, images, objects or situations that cause them anxiety. Over time, their worries, such as about dirt or germs, decrease. They also have the opportunity to find out that if they stop their compulsions, nothing bad happens.
    • Research shows that exposure therapy is the most successful treatment for anxiety disorders, including OCD. It is even more effective when combined with medicine for a limited time. Children with severe OCD may need medicine for 12 to 24 months.
    • The program runs 3 hours a day, 4 days each week. Most kids take part for about 10 to 14 weeks. It may be a few weeks longer if your child needs more treatment.
  • Care tailored to your child
    • Caregivers and children will attend group sessions to learn skills to manage OCD and anxiety. Part of the time is spent in a group with 4-5 children and their caregivers. Together, we review exposure homework and strategies for kids and caregivers to use to treat OCD.
    • Part of each session is spent working with a clinician to complete in-session exposures.
    • If needed, we will recommend that you meet with one of our psychiatric providers about your child’s medicine.

    After your child completes the program, they return to their current community mental health providers for continued treatment or follow-up, as needed

  • Partnering with families

    Parents and guardians are important members of your child’s treatment team. We need you to take part in the program.

    • A parent or guardian must attend each session.
    • Each week there is a  45-minute group that focuses on caregiver concerns and questions connected to your child’s OCD treatment.
  • Experts in children and teens
    • Our healthcare team is specially trained in how to diagnose and treat children and teens. Youth don’t react to anxiety and medicine in the same way as adults. They need – and deserve – care designed just for them.
    • Our experts are focused on how today’s treatment will affect your child as they develop and become an adult.

How to Get Services

Kiddo laughing with momTo see if our OCD Intensive Outpatient Program is right for your child:

  1. Ask your child’s primary care provider or therapist to refer you for services. If your child is a current patient at Seattle Children’s, ask their provider for a referral to the “OCD Intensive Outpatient Program" and to share the OCD Intensive Outpatient Program flyer (Spanish).
  2. Once we receive a referral from your provider, we will contact you to set up an assessment.

     3. The assessment takes place over 2 appointments. This helps us confirm your child’s diagnosis and decide if this program is the best fit. If a different program would work better for your child, we will suggest other options.

4. If the OCD IOP is a good fit for your child, our insurance department will work to get pre-authorization from your insurance company. Most insurance plans cover the treatment, but many require authorization before your child starts. See answers to common questions about mental health coverage.

5. If you already have an appointment, read about:

Providers, see how to refer a patient.

Who Is on the Team?

Providers in the program include:

Telemedicine at Seattle Children’s

You may be offered a telehealth (virtual) appointment. Learn more.

Contact Us

For more information, contact the OCD Intensive Outpatient Program at 206-987-2164. If you would like an appointment, ask your child’s primary care provider or therapist for a referral. The program meets at Seattle Children's Magnuson Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic

Providers, see how to refer a patient.

Paying for Care

Learn about paying for care at Seattle Children’s, including insurance coverage, billing and financial assistance.

Have an insurance question?

Some insurance plans have Seattle Children’s as an in-network provider for medical services and an out-of-network provider for mental health services.

Even if your plan offers an out-of-network benefit, we are not accepting new patients for our mental health services if their insurance does not include Seattle Children’s as an in-network provider.

Learn about mental health insurance coverage at Seattle Children’s.

In crisis?

If you, your child, family or friend needs help right away, call or text 988. Chat is another option. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources. The Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States.

Hotlines for Youth (PDF) provides other options for immediate help for children and teens. (Also available in Amharic, Arabic, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.)