Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Clinical Psychology Competencies

pp 1403-1428

Tic and Habit Disorders

  • Christine A. ConeleaAffiliated withUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • , Benjamin T. P. TuckerAffiliated withUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • , Douglas W. WoodsAffiliated withUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


Repetitive behavior disorders, including tic and habit disorders, are thought to be relatively common among children and adolescents. Tic disorders are characterized by repetitive, sudden movements and/or vocalizations that are seemingly purposeless in nature. Habit disorders are typified by repetitive behaviors focused on the body and include trichotillomania, skin picking, nail biting, thumb sucking, and cheek chewing. Although these disorders may in some cases be benign and short-lived, clinical attention may be needed for children experiencing psychosocial impairment, physical damage, or emotional distress. The current chapter provides an overview of these disorders, their diagnostic assessment, and their purported etiology. Next, evidence-based psychosocial treatments for tic and habit disorders are described. The final portion of the chapter discusses the basic and expert clinician competencies needed to treat tic and habit disorders. Basic competencies include the ability to accurately implement function-based interventions and Habit Reversal Therapy, while expert competencies generally involve the ability to modify treatment for complex or non-responsive cases. The chapter concludes with suggestions to aid a clinician in the transition from basic to expert competence.