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Ricky and the Spider


What is Ricky and the Spider?

Ricky and the Spider is a CBT video game for children with OCD. It is built upon the principles of cognitive behavior therapy and is aimed at children between the ages of six and twelve who are undergoing treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Ricky and the Spider contains various elements of cognitive behavior therapy that are based on well renowned treatment approaches for children (March & Mulle, 1998; Piacentini, Langley, & Roblek, 2007) as well as adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder (Foa et al., 1983; Salkovskis, 1999).
The game consists of an introduction and eight levels. At the end of each level the child receives a worksheet with therapeutic homework to be completed by the next therapy session. Only then, can the child continue to the next level.

What is Ricky and the Spider about?

Ricky and the Spider takes place in a field. Ricky the Grasshopper and Lisa the Ladybug are very unhappy. For a certain time now a Spider has been living in their neighborhood and has been putting specific demands on insects living there. As a result, Ricky can only hop through the fields if he hops in a distinct pattern. As for Lisa, she has to count all her polka dots before she falls asleep each night. The Spider frightens the insects by threatening them that horrible things will happen to them if they do not follow her orders. That is why they carry out her orders and get further and further entwined in the web of obsessive-compulsive disorder. One day, Ricky is so confused that he decides to ask Dr. Owl for advice. Dr. Owl is to be well trusted with Ricky's problem but first he must find a child that understands and that is willing to help him…

For whom was Ricky and the Spider developed?

Ricky and the Spider was developed to help support behavior therapists in the treatment of children who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. With a rate of approximately 2%, OCD is a frequently diagnosed psychiatric illness amongst children and youth. The most effective treatments consist of both cognitive behavior therapy as well as the use of medication. Unfortunately, there is a lack of psycho-therapists available to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. One of the reasons for this is a lack of materials for working with children. The CBT video game Ricky and the Spider integrates the most important therapeutic treatment elements of cognitive behavior therapy in a playful manner. It helps to facilitate the understanding of the illness, its consequences and its subsequent treatment by illustrating this metaphorically. Ricky and the Spider aims to encourage children to confront their obsessive-compulsive disorder and offers support to therapists in their treatment of children with OCD.

What does Ricky and the Spider not offer?

Ricky and the Spider is not a self-help game and not a miracle cure. It is not an interesting game for children who do not suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. For children who do suffer from OCD, it is insufficient to simply play Ricky and the Spider! Parents, who suspect, that their child suffers from OCD, need to go through a thorough diagnostic process administered by a child psychiatrist and then find a behavior therapist. He or she can decide to use Ricky and the Spider as part of the therapy. Parents can also purchase the game. It is, however, unadvisable to use Ricky and the Spider without prior consent of the therapist. Only the therapist can judge whether the child is ready to go on to the next level by assessing their completed homework.


Foa, E., Grayson, J. B., Steketee, G. S., Doppelt, H. G., Turner, R. M., & Latimer, P. R. (1983). Success and failure in the behavioral treatment of obsessive-compulsives. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 51, 287-297.
Foa, E. B., Liebowitz, M. R., Kozak, M. J., Davies, S., Campeas, R., Franklin, M. E., et al. (2005). Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Exposure and Ritual Prevention, Clomipramine, and Their Combination in the Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Am J Psychiatry, 162(1), 151-161.
March, J. S., & Mulle, K. (1998). OCD in children and adolescents. A cognitive-behavioral treatment manual. New York: Guilford Press.
Piacentini, J., Langley, A., & Roblek, T. (2007). Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Childhood OCD. It's only a false alarm. New York: Oxford University Press.
Salkovskis, P. M. (1999). Understanding and treating obsessive-compulsive disorder. Behaviour Research & Therapy, 37(1), S29-S52.

Weiterführende Informationen

For parents

Ricky and the Spider is not a self-help game and should only be played with the guidance of a psychotherapist or child psychiatrist.


Veronika Brezinka
University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Neumünsterallee 9
8032 Zürich, Switzerland