Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a first-line behavior therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder, and has also been tested in Tourette syndrome (TS). However, ERP for tic disorders requires intentional tic suppression, which for some patients is difficult even for brief periods. Additionally, practical access to behavior therapy is difficult for many patients, especially those in rural areas. The authors present a simple, working web platform (TicTrainer) that implements a strategy called reward-enhanced exposure and response prevention (RE–ERP). This strategy sacrifices most expert therapist components of ERP, focusing only on increasing the duration of time for which the user can suppress tics through automated differential reinforcement of tic-free periods (DRO). RE–ERP requires an external tic monitor, such as a parent, during training sessions. The user sees increasing digital rewards for longer and longer periods of successful tic suppression, similar to a video game score. TicTrainer is designed for security, storing no personally identifiable health information, and has features to facilitate research, including optional masked comparison of tics during DRO _vs._ noncontingent reward conditions.
Woods and Himle developed a standardized tic suppression paradigm (TSP) for the experimental setting to quantify the effects of intentional tic suppression in Tourette syndrome. The present article describes a Java program that automates record keeping and reward dispensing during the several experimental conditions of the TSP. The software optionally can be connected to a commercial reward token dispenser to further automate reward delivery to the participant. The timing of all tics, 10-second tic-free intervals, and dispensed rewards is recorded in plain text files for later analysis. Expected applications include research on Tourette syndrome and related disorders.