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Matthew W Specht, PhD

Co-Director, Pediatric OCD and Tourette''s Specialty Clinic
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
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The Johns Hopkins Hospital

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  • Co-Director, Pediatric OCD and Tourette''s Specialty Clinic
  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Centers & Institutes

  • Children's Center


Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders, Pediatric Medical Psychology, Psychologist, Tic Disorders, Tourette's Syndrome

Research Interests

Dr. Specht''s current research focuses on evaluating co-occurring disorders as moderators of treatment outcome as well as developing and evaluating clinical algorithms for combining available empirically supported treatments for clinically complex patients.


In the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, Matt W. Specht, Ph.D., focuses on neuropsychiatric disorders, namely Tourettes disorder and OCD. He began his career at Johns Hopkins in 2006 as a project coordinator and therapist for the Johns Hopkins portion of the NIMH-funded behavior therapy for children with Tourettes Disorder trial (RO1MH069874). He currently serves as the Johns Hopkins site principal investigator (since 2010). He is also a co-investigator (since 2010) for the NINDS-funded Tourettes Syndrome Association (TSA) Genetic Linkage Study 2U01NS040024-06A1. Dr. Specht joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2008 as an Instructor and has since been promoted to Assistant Professor (2011).


  • English


Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA)

Additional Resources

Additional Resources +
  • Education +


    • Idaho State University (Pocatello ID ) (2005)
    • Idaho State University (Pocatello ID ) (2003)


    • VA Maryland Healthcare System / Psychology (Baltimore MD ) (2006)
  • Research & Publications +

    Research Summary

    Dr. Specht is interested in empirically-supported behavioral and cognitive behavioral treatments for Tourette’s and tic disorders as well as common comorbid psychiatric conditions (e.g., Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD], Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder [OCD], and anxiety disorders). He has developed the Tic and Repetitive Behaviors Disorders Specialty Clinic within the Pediatric Medical Psychology Program. His research is focused on examining the means through which behavioral treatments result in sustained reductions in tic symptoms. He is the Principal Investigator of the Tourette Syndrome Association-funded Prolonged Tic Suppression and Habituation to the Premonitory Urge. He was involved with the Tourette Syndrome Association’s large-NIMH funded Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) study.

    Selected Publications

    1. Specht, M.W., Woods, D., Piacentini, J., Scahill, L., Peterson, A., Chang, S., Walkup, J.T. (2011). Clinical characteristics of children and adolescents with a primary tic disorder. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities.Volume 23, Number 1 (2011), 15-31, DOI: 10.1007/s10882-010-9223-z
    2. Woods, D.W., Piacentini, J.C., Scahill, L., Peterson, A.L., Wilhelm, S., Chang, S., Specht, M.W., Walkup, J.T. (in press). Acute and Long-term Effects of Behavior Therapy for Tics on Secondary Psychiatric and Psychosocial Functioning. J Child Neurol July 2011 vol. 26 no. 7 858-865
    3. Woods, D. W., Piacenti, J. C., Scahill, L., Peterson, A. L., Wilhelm, S., Chang, S., Specht, M…Walkup, J. T. (2011). Behavior therapy for tics in children: Acute and long-term effects on psychiatric and psychosocial functioning. Journal of Child Neurology, 26, 858-865.
    4. Piacentini, J., Woods, D. W., Scahill, L., Wilhelm, S., Peterson, A. L., Chang, S., Walkup, J. T. (2010). Behavior therapy for children with Tourette Disorder: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, 303, 1929-1937.
    5. Specht, M.W., Pierce-Keeton, C.., Walkup, J.T. (2008). Childhood Disorders: Tic Disorders. In A. Tasman, J. Kay, J. Lieberman, M.B. First, & M. Maj (Eds.), Psychiatry 3rd edition. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
  • Academic Affiliations & Courses +
  • Activities & Honors +


    Dr. Specht received a TSA Research and Training Grant (2008) designed to examine the effects of prolonged tic suppression. In 2009, he received an early-career scholarship at the TSA 5th International Scientific Symposium in recognition of this work.

    Professional Activities

    Dr. Specht has developed at Johns Hopkins a Pediatric OCD and Tourettes Disorder Specialty Clinic, of which he is co-director. He is a faculty member of the Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA) Behavior Therapy Institute and has completed the International OCD Foundations (IOCDF) Behavior Therapy Training Institute.
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  • Contact & Locations +


    The Johns Hopkins Hospital
    600 N. Wolfe Street
    Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children's Center
    Baltimore, MD 21287
    Phone: 410-614-4236
    Appointment Phone: 410-614-2401
    Fax: 410-955-8691
    Location Map


    • Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences - Child Psychiatry

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