Behavioural therapies for tics and Tourette's syndrome

Strong evidence – there is lots of high-quality evidence that some young people find this treatment option helpful.

Behavioural therapies are usually provided by a psychologist or a specially trained therapist. They all start with psychoeducation and aim to teach you ways to control your tics.

There are several different types of behavioural therapy which can help to reduce tics:

  • Habit reversal training (HRT), which involves working out the feelings and situations that trigger your tics and noticing when you have an urge to tic. Your professional will then help you to find an alternative, less noticeable way of relieving the urge to tic.
  • Exposure with response prevention (ERP), which aims to help you control your urge to tic by recreating the urge to tic and then training you to tolerate the feeling (without doing the tic) until the urge passes.
  • Comprehensive Behavioural Intervention for Tics (CBIT), which involves parts of both HRT and ERP in addition to a functional analysis. A functional analysis aims to identify anything in your life that makes your tics worse. Your professional will also help you to understand what tends to happen before and after your tics and any activities you do to reduce the tics in particular situations, to help you to anticipate and control your tics.

As behavioural therapies are often effective and can help you to feel more in control, they are usually recommended as a first treatment option. They also don’t have the side-effects that people can experience when taking medication. Behavioural therapies might not be available in your local area, so your professional might suggest online versions of these treatments. 

Treatments outlined on these webpages may not be available in every local area. It’s important that you discuss with your GP or mental health professional the treatment options available to you. You can also search for services near you on our Youth Wellbeing Directory and find out more about referral processes here.


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