OCD is a challenging anxiety disorder to face, handle and master. It takes courage, determination and a willingness to experiment – to find out how to cope better and to get more freedom in your life.
Not every therapist understands the inner workings of OCD, and even fewer have specialized training to know how to help. Here’s a great outline of what to look for in a therapist if you are wanting to get advanced help with OCD.
Do you have OCD? Do you know someone with OCD?
Unfortunately, finding help isn’t as easy as it might seem. You can’t just go down to any mental health professional and get good therapy– that’s because OCD is a complex problem, and not all doctors (psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, therapists, etc.) are well-trained to understand and treat it. The best treatment for OCD includes the techniques of exposure and response prevention (ERP), which are part of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Medications can also be helpful–particularly the serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs such as Paxil and Prozac). But these medicines do not have the long-term effectiveness that ERP has. They can also produce side effects. Anyway, to find a trained theapist who really knows how to help you with ERP, you will have to do some legwork. Here’s what I recommend…
Finding a Qualified OCD Therapist
Most likely, you’ll have to look around a little before you find a qualified OCD therapist. While we know that ERP usually works for OCD, not all therapists are familiar with, or well trained to use, these techniques. One of the best ways to find good therapists in your area is by asking the leaders or members of local OCD support groups. The International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) website (www.ocfoundation.org) provides a list of these groups, and even if the nearest one is some distance from you, they may know of good therapists in your area. Three organizations can also provide you with a list of professionals in your region who have indicated that they treat OCD: The IOCDF, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (www.abct.org), and the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (www.adaa.org).