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Hosted by Editor in Chief Lorenzo Norris, MD, Psychcast features mental health care professionals discussing the issues that most affect psychiatry.

Nov 11, 2020

Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, spoke with Psychcast host Lorenzo Norris, MD, about strategies that can be used to help children and adolescents deal with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder amid COVID-19.

Dr. Coyne, a clinical psychologist, is founder of the McLean OCD Institute for Children and Adolescents in Belmont, Mass. She also is director with the New England Center for OCD and Anxiety in Cambridge, Mass. Dr. Coyne disclosed receiving royalties from New Harbinger and Little Brown Publishing.

Dr. Norris has no disclosures.

Take-home points

  • Much of the anxiety experienced by some children and adolescents is caused by uncertainty about the future.
  • Some children and adolescents also are watching cases of COVID-19 tick up across the country and are concerned about the mixed messages they are receiving from adults.
    • Different cultures exist around belief in science.
  • Rates of anxiety in general are on the rise as are demands for more mental health services.
    • Clinicians are supporting each other to support their patients.
  • Anxiety in young patients might present as disruptions in sleep and appetite. Look for an increase in oppositional behavior. Young patients with anxiety also might resist going to bed.
  • Clinicians also are seeing increases in depressed mood and nonsuicidal self-injury.
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy, a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that is exposure based, is a strategy that can be used to help patients develop psychological flexibility and put distance between themselves and their thoughts.


Mazza MT with foreword by Coyne LW. The ACT Workbook for OCD: Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Exposure Skills to Live Well With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Oakland, Calif.: New Harbinger Publications, 2020.

Allmann AE et al. Acceptance and commitment therapy-enhanced exposures for children and adolescents. Exposure Therapy for Children and Adolescents with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Clinician’s Guide to Integrated Treatment. Academic Press, 2020.

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