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The Tourette Syndrome Clinic

The Tourette Syndrome Clinic was developed in partnership between Rutgers'  Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP) and the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome (NJCTS).  The Rutgers-NJCTS Therapeutic program is offered through the Psychological Services Clinic at GSAPP, which provides a variety of psychological services to the public. There are an estimated 7,000 people in New Jersey believed to have full-blown TS and very few resources available to assist them. Through this partnership with NJCTS, we have created specialized treatment programs to address the needs of individuals with Tourette Syndrome and their families. While providing a unique, hands-on learning experience for advanced graduate students, we also strive to increase awareness of TS in the professional community.

Services:

The Rutgers-NJCTS Tourette Syndrome Program offers individual and family therapy for individuals affected by Tourette Syndrome, emphasizing evidence-based treatments for TS and related conditions. All of our therapists are trained in Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT), which includes Habit Reversal Training (HRT), as well as cognitive behavioral approaches for common comorbid conditions such as ADHD, OCD, ASD, and anxiety and mood disorders. Individual and family therapy may also include supportive, psychoeducational, and skill-building interventions (e.g., social skills training).

In addition to individual and family therapy, we offer socio-emotional skills groups for school-aged children and teens. These groups typically begin in January each year (see below for more information). Finally, the Rutgers-NJCTS Tourette Syndrome Program also offers a variety of additional supportive services including diagnostic evaluation, consultation on TS and associated disorders for practitioners, physicians, educators and students, assistance with referrals for physicians, and access to additional resources and services for the TS community.

What is Tourette Syndrome?

Tourette Syndrome is an inherited neurological disorder characterized by tics, which are repeated involuntary movements and sounds such as blinking, headshakes, while body movements, grunting, sniffing, or barking. In a few cases, tics can include uncomfortable/painful movements or inappropriate words and phrases. Symptoms usually begin in early childhood and peak in pre-adolescence. For some, tics show significant reductions throughout adolescence. For others, tics remain into adulthood.

Other challenges can accompany tics. Some children experience social difficulties due to tics. Also, many children with tics can have co-occurring conditions, including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities (LD), difficulties with impulse control, rage attacks, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and body-focused repetitive behaviors (e.g. hair-pulling, skin picking).

Clients:

Our clients are referred from NJCTS, the Rutgers community, and the surrounding communities, schools and human service agencies. They consist of children, adolescents, adults with tics, and the parents and other family members of individuals with TS.

Staff:

Dr. Daniela Colognori, Psy.D. is the TS Program's Clinical Director. Dr. Colognori is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in the evaluation of and cognitive-behavioral intervention with individuals affected by Tourette Syndrome and co-occurring disorders, including OCD, ADHD, behavioral difficulties, anxiety, depression, and body-focused repetitive disorders (e.g. trichotillomania and skin picking). Dr. Colognori is a GSAPP alumna who worked as a student clinician in the TS Program during her doctoral training. She completed an APA-accredited internship at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, PA and an NIMH-funded post-doctoral fellowship at New York University Child Study Center, working in NJ schools to train counselors in an evidence-based program for teens with social anxiety disorder. Dr. Colognori held an Assistant Professor position in the School & Clinical Psychology doctoral program at Kean University in Union, NJ from 2012-2015, where she taught, supervised, and mentored doctoral students. In her current role as Clinical Director of the TS Program, she oversees the clinical and research operations of the clinic while providing training and clinical supervision to doctoral student clinicians and to the other staff members in the program. Dr. Colognori also sees patients within her private practice, Specialized Psychological Services, in Short Hills, NJ (www.spsshorthills.com).

Dr. Jeremy Lichtman, Psy.D., is the TS Program's Post-doctoral Fellow. Dr. Lichtman earned his doctorate in School Psychology from GSAPP in 2016. While at GSAPP, Dr. Lichtman was a student clinician in the TS Program for two years, during which he received training in the treatment of TS and its common comorbid conditions, and wrote his doctoral dissertation on the treatment of TS. He completed his clinical internship at The Haven, a school based mental health counseling program located in the Piscataway school district, providing evidence-based treatment for children, adolescents, and families with a wide range of emotional and behavioral concerns. In addition, Dr. Lichtman has worked as a consultant to the NJCTS, assisting with the development of the NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy.

The Doctoral Student Clinicians are an enthusiastic team of students from the doctoral programs in clinical and school psychology at Rutgers University. The high quality of the Rutgers programs, along with the intensive level of training and supervision provided, allows the students to become experts in the evaluation and treatment of Tourette Syndrome and its co-occurring disorders. The students are the future practitioners for individuals with TS, a specialized area of psychological care with alarmingly few experienced practitioners accessible to the community. The students’ ability to provide relief and assistance to families in need has built the reputation of the TS Program, allowing it to become a premier location in New Jersey for the behavioral treatment of TS-related issues.

How to Contact Us:

To reach the Tourette Syndrome Program at the Rutgers Psychological Services Clinic, please leave us a message at (848) 445-6111 ext. 40150. Our phone coordinator will return your call within a few days to answer any questions you may have about our program, and/or begin the process of scheduling an initial evaluation session.

To get involved with New Jersey Tourette Syndrome community, or to gain more general information about Tourette Syndrome and current TS-related events being held in New Jersey, contact the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome at (908) 575-7350 or visit their informative website: http://www.njcts.org/.

Socio-Emotional Skills Groups for Children with Tourette Syndrome:

There is a growing body of research indicating that the day-to-day challenges of living with tics and TS can have long-term effects on a child’s social-emotional functioning. Many children may experience anxiety, develop negative self-perceptions, are teased and bullied, and avoid social situations as a result of their tics. In response to these challenges, the Rutgers TS Program has developed a 10-week program that aims to help children build resilience and develop the skills that they need to better navigate life with tics. The program is based on the research-supported principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and is uniquely designed to help youth:
  1. Learn about tics in a developmentally appropriate way,
  2. Build confidence,
  3. Identify and managing difficult thoughts and feelings
  4. Navigate the various social issues that often come along with having tics, such as talking to others about tics and responding to teasing
Additionally, the groups provide a supportive environment for children and adolescents to meet peers with tics, discuss their experiences living with the condition, and give and receive advice. Past group members have enjoyed speaking freely about their tics while learning practical strategies for living with tics in a fun and interactive manner.

This 10-week program typically begins in late January each year. If you are interested in having your child participate, please contact the TS Program for more information and/or to get yourself on the list for the next cycle of groups, (848) 445-6111, ext. 40150.

Research:

Habit Reversal Study: The TS Program at the Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology in Piscataway is researching the effectiveness of Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT/HRT), a behavioral treatment that has been shown to reduce current tics and to teach management strategies to reduce future tics within children, adolescents and adults. Please contact the TS Program to enroll in this study, 848 445-6111, extension 40150.

Genetics Study: Rutgers University with support from the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome (NJCTS) is involved in a study to better understand the genetics of Tourette Syndrome. For more information please contact NJCTS at (908) 575-7350 or go to http://www.njcts.org/docs/DNASharingbooletwebbR.pdf

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Last Updated: December 08, 2016
The Psychological Clinic is a division of the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology