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Childhood Psychology

Disorders we treat

Our team of psychologists, psychiatrists, behavioral health specialists, and mobile exposure coaches provides evidence-based treatment for a range of anxiety and related disorders.


OCD is characterized by recurrent, intrusive thoughts called "obsessions" and ritualized, repetitive behaviors called "compulsions" that children feel they must perform in highly systemized ways. Common obsessions involve fears of contamination, germs, harming, or being harmed by others. Sometimes, children experience the sense that things may not be "just right" unless they are organized in a certain way or done in a certain order. Common compulsions include hand-washing, ritualized toileting or bathing, avoidance of touching potentially contaminated objects (like doorknobs), rereading, re-writing, erasing excessively, or touching, tapping, and checking in certain ways.


Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by a broad range of worries (about friends and family, the future, school or work, health, finances, etc.). People with GAD may feel like they are always worried, may ruminate often, and may experience physical symptoms of anxiety such as muscle tension, stomachaches, and difficulty sleeping.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation anxiety disorder is a disorder in which the child experiences excessive anxiety pertaining to separation from home or a loved one. Common symptoms include: recurrent worries of separation or anticipation of separation, refusal to leave home, sleep problems, stomachaches, and irrational fears. Symptoms should persist for a minimum of 4 weeks.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder involves significant worry in the context of social or performance situations, resulting in avoidance behavior. The child may experience fear in a particular social situation (e.g., public speaking) or in a variety of social situations.


Specific phobias are strong fears of certain objects or situations. Examples of phobias that are common in children include fears of animals, the dark, loud noises, storms, and needles.


A panic disorder is diagnosed when children experience spontaneous, seemingly out-of-the-blue panic attacks and are preoccupied with the fear of having another panic attack.


Agoraphobia may be diagnosed when a child avoids certain places or situations because they are worried about having a panic attack.


Selective mutism is diagnosed when a child is unwilling or unable to speak aloud at all or in certain situations without a medical cause. (In other words, the child has the physical capacity for speech, but they do not speak.)



Tics are sudden, rapid, recurrent movements or vocalizations that are generally experienced as irresistible. Tics are classified as either motor tics or vocal tics and can be simple or complex. Examples of motor tics are eye blinking (simple), nose wrinkling (simple), and hand gestures (complex). Examples of vocal tics are throat clearing (simple), sniffing (simple) and sudden changes in speech volume (complex) Tourette’s Disorder is a tic disorder characterized by multiple motor tics and one or more vocal tic. Tics occur many times per day throughout a period of more than one year. Chronic Motor or Vocal Tic Disorder involves either motor or vocal tics for at least 12 months.


Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling Disorder) is characterized by the recurrent pulling out of one’s own hair, resulting in noticeable hair loss. Hair pulling may occur in any region of the body where hair may grow, with the most common sites being the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes


Dermatillomania (Skin-Picking Disorder), also known as Excoriation, is characterized by repetitive picking at one’s own skin to the extent of causing damage. The face is the most common location for skin picking, but it can involve any part of the body. One can use fingernails, teeth, tweezers, pins, or other devices to pick at normal skin, freckles, moles, pre-existing scabs, sores, acne blemishes, or at imagined skin defects that no one else can see.


Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a body-image disorder involving persistent and intrusive thoughts about a perceived flaw in one’s appearance. These thoughts often consume a lot of time and energy, interfere with functioning, and cause significant emotional distress.  

For other concerns...

If you or your child are experiencing non-anxiety-related symptoms and are seeking services, you can call KidsLink Rhode Island for referrals at 1-855-543-5465.

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