Department of Psychiatry

Penn Behavioral Health

Treatment Programs at the CTSA

The Center provides evidence-based treatment programs for anxiety and related disorders on a fee-for-service basis. When treatment research programs are available, eligible participants may enroll and receive treatment free of charge.

For more information on treatment programs available at our Center, please click below:

Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Treatment of OCD at the CTSA

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has been a specialty at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety since its founding in 1979. Many of the state-of-the-art treatments for this disorder have been developed at the Center. The CTSA specializes in a cognitive-behavioral treatment for OCD called Exposure and Response Prevention (Ex/RP). Decades of research on Ex/RP have yielded findings that clearly support the high efficacy of Ex/RP in reducing OCD symptom severity and improving the long-term management of these symptoms.

Treatment of OCD with Ex/RP is typically completed in 15-20 individual therapy sessions that are roughly 90 minutes each. Ex/RP emphasizes reducing and eliminating rituals and compulsions while at the same time confronting situations that provoke anxiety and the performance of compulsions. Ex/RP sessions utilize gradual exposure to feared thoughts and situations, while the patient learns to control their compulsive behaviors such as washing and checking.

The CTSA offers several Ex/RP treatment programs for adults, adolescents, and children with OCD:

  • Standard treatment: Twice-weekly sessions over the course of 8-10 weeks.
  • Weekly treatment: For patients with relatively mild OCD, once-weekly sessions over the course of 15-20 weeks.
  • Intensive treatment: For patients from outside the greater Philadelphia area or with severe OCD, daily sessions over the course of 3-4 weeks.

Psychiatric evaluation of the utility of medications (used in addition to Ex/RP or alone) is also available at the CTSA.

Eligibility

Before entering a treatment program at the Center, patients first complete a phone screening interview with one of our intake coordinators. If appropriate, patients then schedule and complete an extensive psychological evaluation with a clinician. Patients are interviewed at length and complete a number of specialized assessment forms to ensure an accurate diagnosis. The information gathered during this evaluation is used to determine if the person has an anxiety or stress problem and which treatment best matches the patient's needs. The results of the evaluation are discussed with the patient and treatment recommendations are offered. If the evaluation indicates that the treatment programs at the Center are appropriate for the person, then arrangements for treatment will be made following the evaluation.

More Information About the CTSA's Intensive Ex/RP Program

The CTSA is the only Center in the Delaware Valley that offers an individualized intensive Exposure and Ritual Prevention Treatment program.

Typically, our intensive Ex/RP program consists of 15 to 20 daily 90-minute sessions, with assigned exercises to be practiced during the rest of the day. The intensive program is designed for those who are not in close physical proximity to the Center, for those with moderate or severe OCD symptoms, or for individuals who have taken time off from work or school to focus on treatment.  If you are beyond daily commuting distance from our clinic (e.g., out-of-state), you may be able to stay with a hosting family at no cost through Hosts for Hospitals

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Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Treatment of PTSD at the CTSA

In 1984, the Center began research and treatment programs for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We now offer cutting-edge cognitive-behavioral therapy programs that typically consist of eight to fifteen weekly or twice weekly sessions of a cognitive-behavioral therapy program called prolonged exposure (PE). Sessions last about one and a half hours each, and are designed to enable trauma survivors to overcome their fear, anxiety, and stress. Therapy includes discussing frightening thoughts, breathing retraining, confronting safe situations, and/or by revisiting and recounting  painful memories in order to process them and reduce their emotional impact.

Treatment of children with PTSD

Treatment is available at the CTSA for children and adolescents who have been exposed to traumatic or life-threatening events and have developed symptoms of PTSD. This treatment is organized around modules that allow the program to be tailored to the developmental level of the child. In this treatment, the child will learn about trauma and its effects, skills for managing stress, and the value of confronting and overcoming fear. The program is developmentally sensitive and encourages youth  to confront feared situations and traumatic memories.

Eligibility

Before entering a treatment program at the Center, patients first complete a phone screening interview with one of our intake coordinators. If appropriate, patients then schedule and complete an extensive psychological evaluation with a clinician. Patients are interviewed at length and complete a number of specialized assessment forms to ensure an accurate diagnosis. The information gathered during this evaluation is used to determine if the person has an anxiety or stress problem and which treatment best matches the patient's needs. The results of the evaluation are discussed with the patient and treatment recommendations are offered. If the evaluation indicates that the treatment programs at the Center are appropriate for the person, then arrangements for treatment will be made following the evaluation.

Watch the following video to learn more about PE:

 

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Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder

Treatment of Social Anxiety at the CTSA

The Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety offers cognitive-behavioral therapy for social phobia. Techniques used in this therapy include examining fearful thoughts, social skills training, and practicing social interactions. Medications may be used by themselves or in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of social phobia.

The treatment program begins with the therapist and patient outlining a model of the patient’s social anxiety by evaluating factors that help to maintain the anxiety. As treatment progresses, the patient's safety behaviors and avoidances are identified and a hierarchy of avoided situations to which the patient will expose themselves to is created. Other treatment techniques (such as video feedback, surveys, imaginal exposure, social skills training, and assertiveness training) are also used on an as needed basis. Most sessions include at least one exposure to a feared situation and exposures are also assigned each week for homework. Accordingly, the patient has repeated opportunities to practice being in the feared situations, thereby gathering evidence about the probability of the feared outcomes in these social situations.  Treatment concludes with work on relapse prevention and goal-setting for continued success.

Eligibility

Before entering a treatment program at the Center, patients first complete a phone screening interview with one of our intake coordinators. If appropriate, patients then schedule and complete an extensive psychological evaluation with a clinician. Patients are interviewed at length and complete a number of specialized assessment forms to ensure an accurate diagnosis. The information gathered during this evaluation is used to determine if the person has an anxiety or stress problem and which treatment best matches the patient's needs. The results of the evaluation are discussed with the patient and treatment recommendations are offered. If the evaluation indicates that the treatment programs at the Center are appropriate for the person, then arrangements for treatment will be made following the evaluation.

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Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Treatment of GAD at the CTSA

The CTSA offers cognitive-behavioral treatment for GAD. Treatment consists of identifying the factors that maintain worry, examining and evaluating fearful or worried thoughts, learning effective coping skills, relaxation skills training, and confronting feared or avoided situations through exposure.

Eligibility

Before entering a treatment program at the Center, patients first complete a phone screening interview with one of our intake coordinators. If appropriate, patients then schedule and complete an extensive psychological evaluation with a clinician. Patients are interviewed at length and complete a number of specialized assessment forms to ensure an accurate diagnosis. The information gathered during this evaluation is used to determine if the person has an anxiety or stress problem and which treatment best matches the patient's needs. The results of the evaluation are discussed with the patient and treatment recommendations are offered. If the evaluation indicates that the treatment programs at the Center are appropriate for the person, then arrangements for treatment will be made following the evaluation.

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Treatment of Panic Disorder

Treatment for Panic Disorder at the CTSA

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for panic disorder at the CTSA focuses on education about panic, exposure to feared sensations and situations, and techniques to challenge unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. 

Eligibility

Before entering a treatment program at the Center, patients first complete a phone screening interview with one of our intake coordinators. If appropriate, patients then schedule and complete an extensive psychological evaluation with a clinician. Patients are interviewed at length and complete a number of specialized assessment forms to ensure an accurate diagnosis. The information gathered during this evaluation is used to determine if the person has an anxiety or stress problem and which treatment best matches the patient's needs. The results of the evaluation are discussed with the patient and treatment recommendations are offered. If the evaluation indicates that the treatment programs at the Center are appropriate for the person, then arrangements for treatment will be made following the evaluation.

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Treatment of Specific Phobias

Treatment of Specific Phobias at the CTSA

Specific phobias can include fear of flying, fear of heights, fear of small animals or insects, fear of blood, etc. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for specific phobia at the CTSA focuses on education about phobias, exposure to feared sensations and situations, and techniques to challenge unhelpful thoughts and beliefs.

Eligibility

Before entering a treatment program at the Center, patients first complete a phone screening interview with one of our intake coordinators. If appropriate, patients then schedule and complete an extensive psychological evaluation with a clinician. Patients are interviewed at length and complete a number of specialized assessment forms to ensure an accurate diagnosis. The information gathered during this evaluation is used to determine if the person has an anxiety or stress problem and which treatment best matches the patient's needs. The results of the evaluation are discussed with the patient and treatment recommendations are offered. If the evaluation indicates that the treatment programs at the Center are appropriate for the person, then arrangements for treatment will be made following the evaluation.

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Treatment of Trichotillomania and Excoriation Disorder

Treatment of Trichotillomania and Excoriation Disorder at the CTSA

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for trichotillomania and excoriation disorder at the CTSA focuses on education about these disorders, awareness training and introduction of self-monitoring, implementation of stimulus control (making the environment less pulling- or picking-friendly) procedures and habit reversal (practicing competing responses that deter pulling or picking), and maintenance of gains.

Eligibility

Before entering a treatment program at the Center, patients first complete a phone screening interview with one of our intake coordinators. If appropriate, patients then schedule and complete an extensive psychological evaluation with a clinician. Patients are interviewed at length and complete a number of specialized assessment forms to ensure an accurate diagnosis. The information gathered during this evaluation is used to determine if the person has an anxiety or stress problem and which treatment best matches the patient's needs. The results of the evaluation are discussed with the patient and treatment recommendations are offered. If the evaluation indicates that the treatment programs at the Center are appropriate for the person, then arrangements for treatment will be made following the evaluation.

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