Monday, May 3, 2010

Does your therapist treat OCD? Have they heard of ERP? Do their patients get better?

yes and no
Most therapists say yes, they treat OCD. As I've observed on several anxiety forums though, and in my own experience, most therapists say, no, I don't practice Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy. I feel distressed by the lack of education about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and how to treat it, and the unrelieved suffering of many of those in some sort of therapy. The International OCD Foundation offers the Behavior Therapy Training Institute for therapists to learn ERP skills, as well as CE credit at the IOCDF Conference, but it's still hard to find someone who does ERP.

A couple years ago I went to the annual IOCDF Conference and over and over again I witnessed people realizing they weren't alone, and seeing the evidence of others who had done ERP treatment and were getting better. I get frustrated at how slowly this knowledge seems to flow out into the wider world of therapy.

If you are interviewing a potential therapist, and they've never heard of ERP and you have limited access to providers of therapy, ask if they are willing to learn about it. My previous therapist would have been willing. Not every therapist is open to something they are unfamiliar with, or they might have a stereotype of what Behavior Therapy is about.

I do take heart from discovering that Time Magazine has selected Edna Foa, researcher of OCD and PTSD at University of Pennsylvania, for their list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

If you've read about Exposure and Response Prevention treatment for OCD, you've most likely come across Edna Foa. She co-wrote Stop Obsessing! with Reid Wilson in 2001.

She is the director of U/Penn's Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety.


  1. One thing I can't quite get straight in my head is how often people "get better." The studies seem to say 90% will show great improvement with ERP, but I don't believe it. Either that or "great" improvement isn't as great as it sounds.

    But it sure seems like a lot of those "better" people still have an awfully lot of symptoms. Anyway, despite my skepticism, I keep working on it. Doesn't seem like there's any other way.

  2. Yeah, this post came out of my frustration with 6 years of psychodynamic therapy which did little to alleviate my ocd symptoms, but it's not like ERP is easy or intuitive. I find that I want my obsessive thoughts to vanish, but the reality is that as I do ERP, they don't bother me as much, but I still have this desire to eradicate them.