Ep 42: OCD in Children and Teens: Joy Ryan, LPC, RPT

While we may be aware that obsessive-compulsive disorder can have debilitating consequences for the adults who suffer from it, OCD in children and teens presents a unique set of challenges. Today’s guest is Joy Ryan, Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist who specializes in Pediatric OCD. She often treats children and teens who suffer from OCD at her practice Connect Psychology Services. In this episode, she sheds light on exactly what OCD is, how to differentiate it from anxiety, and what the obsessions and compulsions are that define it. She also goes through the five most common forms of OCD and provides tips on how to identify it, particularly in children, as well as the steps that she takes to help a child learn to cope with OCD, from measuring it on the Yale-Brown OCD scale to compiling a fear hierarchy and creating exposures. She emphasizes the importance of involving parents in the process and provides some helpful resources for anyone wanting to find out more information. As always, the episode ends with a story of hope, as Joy shares her experience with one family who would not have survived the pandemic without her help, so make sure to tune in today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • An introduction to today’s guest, Joy Ryan.
  • Joy’s background in psychological services and her own practice.
  • How she identified a need and went on to specialize in Pediatric OCD.
  • What the true diagnosable OCD is and how to define obsessions and compulsions.
  • Sherry shares her own experience with OCD.
  • Using the word “obsessed” in the wrong contexts and how that can diminish what those with OCD experience. 
  • Common types of OCD: Contamination OCD, Harm OCD, Just Right OCD, OCD related to sex, and Scrupulosity OCD.
  • How to identify OCD in children.
  • How a child with OCD might have rituals that are unintentionally reinforced by their family.
  • The different approaches to diagnosing OCD and differentiating it from anxiety, including the Yale-Brown OCD scale.
  • Some common questions Joy gets from parents of children with OCD.
  • Questions around whether or not kids are afraid of giving up their rituals like adults often are.
  • What parents tell the kids about why they’re seeing a counselor and the importance of involving the whole family.
  • How Joy goes about treating a child with OCD, including involving the parents throughout.
  • How treating a child with anxiety is different from treating a child with OCD.
  • What drew Joy to work with children and adults who are facing OCD.
  • Helpful resources for anyone wanting to pursue help or find out more information.
  • A story of hope about a family who would not have survived the pandemic without Joy’s help.


“It’s a two-part thing – they have these unwanted thoughts, urges, and then they have a compulsion to try to rid the anxiety or the inner turmoil that they’re feeling related to those obsessions.” — Joy Ryan [0:05:42]

“My job, and what I do with your child related to OCD or anxiety, is not to eliminate it. It is to help you tolerate it. To be able to live in that space of uncertainty and to be okay, because life is uncertain!” — Joy Ryan [0:32:26]

“You have OCD. You’re always going to have OCD, but you can learn to live with it in a way that you’re the boss, it’s not the boss.” — Joy Ryan [0:32:45]

“I get such joy from that, to say, ‘How is this affecting you? Where is your distress coming from? How impactful is it on your life? Let’s see what we can do about it.’” — Joy Ryan [0:32:59]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Joy Ryan on LinkedIn

Connect Psychology Services

Dr. Aureen Pinto Wagner on LinkedIn

The International OCD Foundation

The Peace of Mind Foundation

Mosaics of Mercy


You can listen here on our website or through the links below. However, we highly recommend subscribing so you can automatically receive each new episode. To do so, click one of the subscribe options below.



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