Professor Published in Psychology

Published on 07 October 2015

Melanie VanDyke, assistant professor of psychology, was published in Psychology online in September for her research of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and the impact it has on family members of those with the illness.

The article, “Brief Consultation to Families of Treatment Refusers with OCD Symptoms: Does it Impact Family Accommodation and Quality of Life?” reveals results from a study conducted by VanDyke and her research partners, C. Alec Pollard and Kyle Conlon. It is the first treatment to be evaluated for its ability to help families cope when loved ones with symptoms of OCD refuse to seek help and provides insights for clinicians and researchers to better address the needs of these families.

“Family members often respond to OCD symptoms in understandable, but unhelpful ways,” VanDyke says.

Preliminary research suggests that the use of Brief Family Consultation (a type of intervention designed by VanDyke and her multidisciplinary team to help families focus on realistic behavior changes) results in reductions in family accommodation behavior, such as washing items over and over or providing excessive reassurance. Yet the study suggests that brief family consultations do not result in improved quality of life for family members of those who refuse OCD treatment.

“This study gives clinicians an approach to help families of treatment refusers who may feel hopeless to change their situation,” VanDyke says.

VanDyke and her colleagues are developing a book, entitled the Therapist’s Manual for Consultation to the Families of Treatment Refusers with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, based on their research. She has also recently co-authored a chapter on the treatment of aggressive obsessions in adults in the Clinical Handbook of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders: A Case-Based Approach to Treating Pediatric and Adult Populations and written a review of a video entitled Engaging the Ambivalent OCD Client.

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