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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Why does my 12 year old child have germpobhia?

    She will wash her hands many times a day.

    All of the sudden she takes her clothes out of the closet and put it for washing, when its already clean.
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    Mariela Occelli

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Mariela Occelli is a Clinical Psychologist with well over 20 years experience in the assessment and treatment of clinical disorders. She has worked in private … View Profile

    I'm sorry to hear that your 12 year old is troubled. Her behaviour appears to indicate that she is distressed or anxious. You mention that she has “germophobia”. Has she expressed a fear of germs or contamination? Her behaviour at face value appears to flag the possibility of an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD. OCD involves the experience of unwanted intrusive, disturbing and recurrent thoughts, impulses, or images, (for example an excessive preoccupation with contamination or germs) followed by the compulsion to perform repetitive behaviours or mental acts aimed at preventing or reducing  distress, or at preventing some dreaded event or situation (for example, repetitive handwashing to avoid becoming ill). OCD behaviours or rituals are not connected in any realistic way to what they are designed to prevent or else they are clearly excessive. Having said this, OCD is not the only possible explanation for your daughter's behaviour and  there may be other factors involved. Perhaps you could set some time to sit with her and encourage her to share her feelings about what is preoccupying her.  If the behaviour persists I strongly recommend you see your GP to request referral to a child Clinical Psychologist who will be able to assess and diagnose the problem as well as provide therapy to treat the symptoms.  

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