Effective Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Part of the job of being a psychologist is to continually seek out ongoing education. Partially this is to do due diligence to stay up to date on recent advances, to challenge ourselves to grow, and to question why we do what we do. But it is also important because we are required by law to do so!
Although I have been treating OCD for years, I recently decided to spend my education hours focusing on more advanced training in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to sit in a room for three days and listen to the experts in our country who spend their careers researching and treating OCD. An added bonus to this training is ongoing consultation regarding the cases I treat. After investing so much into this training, I thought it made sense to write a blog post about it and share a little bit about why it’s so important to get good training before treating OCD.
1. OCD is stressful.
Living with OCD is exhausting. Clients often say that their thoughts are driving them crazy; yet they “have to listen” and have to follow through on the compulsive behaviors. The truth is, OCD is a self-fulfilling trap. Each behavior reinforces you to repeat it, by rewarding you with an immediate decrease in obsessive thinking. However, patients can become stuck in this trap and it begins to take up more and more time and mental load.
2. Treating OCD is hard.
Helping clients to get out of this trap can also be hard. By the very nature of the treatment, we are asking patients to face their fears and trust that those fears won’t come to fruition. I always tell patients that the therapy for OCD works, but it can feel daunting. That is why we take a team approach and work through the steps together.
3. Not many therapists actually have the correct training.
Sadly, most patients who come to me have been in therapy before with no results. That is because, although the field of psychology does know how to treat OCD, not all therapists have the right training to do so. Many clients have been in therapy trying to “talk themselves out of the OCD.” Unfortunately, if that would work, therapy would probably not be needed!
4. Good treatment can help.
The good news is we do have a treatment that works - Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP). ERP is effective in treating approximately 80% of patients, which is great news for clients seeking help. ERP supports the client in breaking out of the “OCD trap” by helping them to face their fears without engaging in rituals or compulsive behaviors. If you are looking for a therapist to help with symptoms of OCD, it is a good idea to ask if they are trained in Exposure with Response Prevention.
If you are looking for a good therapist trained in evidence-based practices to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, check out the DIrectory on the International OCD Foundation website. This directory lists therapists across the country trained in Exposure with Response Prevention and other proven methods in treating OCD and other related disorders such as Tics/Tourette’s, Hoarding, and Trichotillomania.