Diagnosing childhood OCD

Ella Oar, Carly Johnco, Cynthia Turner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Careful diagnosis and case conceptualization are central to effective treatment planning. However, diagnosis can be complicated when working with children and families. In addition to knowledge about diagnostic criteria, diagnosis relies heavily on clinicians’ ability to identify, conceptualize, and differentiate a range of symptoms in order to generate a successful treatment plan. There are a number of important considerations when diagnosing and differentiating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in children and youth. This chapter will discuss four key areas and skills that are central to a developmentally sensitive assessment of OCD. This chapter will (1) outline how to apply the diagnostic criteria for OCD to youth, including how to differentiate age-normative and pathological rituals; (2) review common OCD symptom presentations in youth; (3) provide clinical guidance on how to conceptualize and differentiate OCD symptoms from symptoms of anxiety and other psychopathology, particularly in the context of overlapping symptoms; and (4) highlight complicating factors to consider when assessing and diagnosing OCD in children and adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe clinician's guide to cognitive-behavioral therapy for childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder
EditorsEric Storch, Joseph McGuire, Dean McKay
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780128114285
ISBN (Print)9780128114278
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • OCD
  • child
  • adolescent
  • diagnosis
  • differential diagnosis
  • comorbidity

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  • Cite this

    Oar, E., Johnco, C., & Turner, C. (2018). Diagnosing childhood OCD. In E. Storch, J. McGuire, & D. McKay (Eds.), The clinician's guide to cognitive-behavioral therapy for childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder (pp. 7-28). London, UK: Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-811427-8.00002-2