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REACH program offers a new state-of-the-art OCD treatment clinic at Bridgeport Hospital

Friday, May 31, 2024

BRIDGEPORT, CT (May 31, 2024) – The REACH (Recovery, Engagement, Access, Coaching & Healing) Adult OCD/Anxiety Disorders Program at Bridgeport Hospital has been named Program of the Year by the Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Health.

The Adult OCD/Anxiety Disorders Program was established in 2023 through a collaboration between the Yale School of Medicine OCD Research Clinic and REACH. The REACH Program is funded by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS).

The OCD/Anxiety Disorders program at Bridgeport Hospital is the only one of two dedicated intensive programs in the United States offering Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP) with medication management. ERP therapy is a behavioral therapy that gradually exposes people to situations designed to provoke a person's obsessions in a safe environment.

“This is a program that is really make a difference for those who suffer the debilitating effects of OCD,” said Brian Zaboski, PhD, ABPP, assistant professor of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, who directs daily exposure and response prevention (ERP) treatment at Bridgeport Hospital. “It is an honor for us to be recognized nationally.”

The OCD and Anxiety disorders treatment track at Bridgeport Hospital is an adult intensive outpatient program for individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and impairing anxiety disorders. OCD includes unwanted or intrusive thoughts, images, or urges (obsessions) that cause distress. Individuals suffering from OCD engage in repetitive behaviors or thoughts (compulsions) that temporarily alleviate the distress caused by the obsessions. Similarly, individuals with impairing anxiety, such as phobias, experience excessive fear and often engage in persistent avoidance behaviors.

Patients who have OCD or anxiety feel fear or distress followed by the need to engage in compulsions or avoidance to feel better. This relief is only temporary, however, and fear often returns stronger than before.

The Adult OCD and Anxiety Disorders Track at REACH is designed to break this cycle. This is done through an evidence-based technique called cognitive-behavioral therapy with exposure. The program is highly structured and individualized. With this technique, REACH staff encourage gradual, supported approaches of feared experiences. It includes individualized interventions in a group environment that increase one’s ability to face feared experiences in a safe and tolerable way.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy with exposure is recommended for OCD and anxiety disorders by National organizations including the International OCD Foundation, American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

In addition to the OCD/Anxiety Disorders clinic, the REACH program at Bridgeport Hospital also offers an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), which includes Medication Management and Outpatient Group Therapy for both adults and youth. The IOPs provide group-based treatment programs for those in need of intensive therapeutic services following a psychiatric hospitalization or to prevent a hospitalization. The programs are structured, supportive and use a variety of group therapy interventions within a nurturing environment to help patients achieve their treatment goals. The IOPs offer consistent engagement with a board-certified psychiatrist and/or psychiatric nurse practitioner, providing ongoing support throughout the patient's treatment journey, which involves in-person sessions tailored for medication management services.

All psychiatric treatment services within the IOP are offered in a specialized facility separate from the hospital. As a part of Yale New Haven Health, Bridgeport Hospital can facilitate access to YNHHS experts for patients and families enrolled in the REACH Program.

Bridgeport Hospital, part of Yale New Haven Health, is a non-profit 501-bed acute care hospital with two campuses (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale New Haven Children's Hospital). Its Bridgeport and Milford Campuses serve patients from across the region. The hospital admits more than 23,000 patients and provides nearly 350,000 outpatient treatments annually. The Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital is the only burn center in the state and one of only 64 verified burn centers in the United States. Bridgeport Hospital is committed to providing safe, compassionate and cost efficient care to its patients and the community.

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