Comprehensive Behavior Intervention for Tics (CBIT)

Until recently, medication has been the primary treatment option for kids and adults with Tourette Syndrome (TS) and tic disorders. Although medication can help control the tics, it doesn’t always work and can often cause side effects, so researchers began the development of a new treatment option using behavioral therapy.

CBIT is an 8-10 week treatment program where an Occupational Therapist (OT) works with a client once a week to teach him/her to become more aware of the tic and the behaviors that cause it to occur. The clinician then helps the person change what they do by introducing a competing behavior that will allow him/her to better control the tics. Upon introducing new strategies and responses, the person will learn to better manage his or her tic disorder, and will gain confidence in the process. This carefully planned treatment is client-specific to address each person’s unique needs and symptoms. 

Using CBIT, our clinician works with clients to:

  • train him or her to be more aware of tics
  • develop and implement “competing” behaviors when he or she identifies the urge to tic, and
  • make changes in day-to-day activities in ways that can help reduce tics.

In order to be as effective as possible, CBIT requires additional practice time outside of the treatment sessions. Throughout the program, the OT will work to embed the competing responses into the child’s routines and daily behaviors.

According to studies conducted by the National Institute of Health, more than 50% of children who undergo this treatment experience significant reductions in tic severity. While complete elimination of all tics and other Tourette syndrome (TS) symptoms has been seen occasionally following treatment, it is not to be expected. CBIT is not a “cure” for TS; rather, it’s a tool that can help people better manage their tics.

CBIT, while designed to focus on tic disorders, may also benefit clients with Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who often have tic-like movements. Our CBIT program offers strategies to help clients manage their tic-like movements and provides each person with self-regulation strategies to manage daily situations and events that affect them when interacting in their home and community.

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