Treatment for OCD

The average person takes 14-17 years from the onset of OCD to get the right treatment. 

What are the Obstacles to Treatment?

  • Hiding OCD Symptoms. Often because of fear of embarrassment or stigma, people choose to hide their symptoms. Sometimes people with OCD don’t seek the help of a mental health professional until years after the onset of symptoms.
  • Lack of Public Awareness of OCD. Many people did not know there was even a name for their illness until recently. Without a name, they assumed there was no treatment.
  • Lack of Proper Training of Health Professionals. Often, people with OCD get the wrong diagnosis and need to see several doctors, over several years, getting incorrect treatment, before getting the right diagnosis.
  • Trouble Finding Local Therapists Who Can Treat OCD Effectively.
  • Lack of Affordability for proper treatment. 

Best treatment for most people with OCD

The Best Treatment Should Include One or More of These:

  • A therapist who is properly trained
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (also called CBT), specifically Exposure Response Prevention (ERP)
  • Medication

Finding a Therapist

It is important to interview your therapist to find out if they are trained to do Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy. Some therapists are better at treating OCD than others.

Their responses to your questions will be a good guide for you.

You can start by asking about what techniques they use to treat OCD.

If the therapist doesn’t mention Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) or Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), or if they are vague, use caution.

When you ask about Exposure and Response Prevention to treat OCD, Beware of therapists who say that they use CBT but who won’t be specific.

Ask about their training and background in treating OCD.

If they went to a CBT psychology graduate program or if they did a post-doctoral fellowship in CBT, that is good. Another positive would be membership of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) or a member of the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapists (ABCT). Look for therapists who have attended specialized workshops or training offered by the IOCDF. An example would be Behavior Therapy Training Institute (BTTI) or the Annual Conference.

Here is an example of Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

Using a CBT strategy called exposure and response prevention (ERP), people can learn to do the something other than what their OCD is telling them to do. They learn to do this  by facing their fears gradually (exposure), without giving in to their OCD rituals (response prevention). This helps them to realize their fears don’t come true and that they can get used to the feeling, just like they might get used to cold water by gradually entering a swimming pool.

Here is an example:
Imagine a person who repeatedly touches things in their room to prevent bad luck from happening. Using ERP, this person would learn to leave their room without touching anything. This feels very scary at first, but after a while, the anxiety goes away as they get used to it. They also find out that nothing bad happens.

Click here to search the IOCDF’s Resource Directory to find a therapist near you.