Behavioral therapy for Tourette syndrome and chronic tic disorders

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Purpose of review:

To summarize behavioral interventions for the treatment of primary tic disorders.

Recent findings:

Although tics were attributed to a disordered weak volition, the shift towards neurobiological models of tic disorders also transformed nonpharmacologic treatment practices. Current international guidelines recommend habit reversal training, comprehensive behavioral intervention, and exposure and response prevention as first-line therapies for tics. Appropriate patient selection, including age and presence of comorbidities, are salient clinical features that merit consideration. Evidence for further behavioral interventions is also presented.


Currently recommended behavioral interventions view tics as habitual responses that may be further strengthened through negative reinforcement. Although availability and costs related to these interventions may limit their effect, Internet-based and telehealth approaches may facilitate wide accessibility. Novel nonpharmacologic treatments that take different approaches, such as autonomic modulation or attention-based interventions, may also hold therapeutic promise.

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