We recommend that people with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) get help from a therapist with experience and training in cognitive behavioral therapy. Specifically you want a therapist trained in a technique called exposure and response prevention. Many of our readers with OCD have asked for directions on finding a good, well trained therapist. Here are a few web sites that list therapists. Of course, we don’t know all of the names on these lists, but generally the therapists will have training in this area.
Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies This site has listings of therapists all over the world. The Association encourages the study, practice, and development of scientifically validated treatments in the area of cognitive behavior therapy (which the specific technique, exposure and response prevention is based upon).
Academy of Cognitive Therapy This organization certifies therapists who have been trained in cognitive therapy. Many, if not most of these therapists are also well schooled in cognitive behavior therapy.
Obsessive Compulsive Foundation This nonprofit organization delivers education to the public and professionals about OCD. You can find lots of articles and information about books and workshops. A list of therapists trained in treating OCD is also available.
When therapists are on one or more of these lists, there is a greater likelihood that they have had experience and training in the treatment of OCD than those not on the lists. But you should still inquire about specific expertise in treating OCD. However, all therapists do not choose to be listed in this manner. Some may have full practices, or prefer to have referrals directly from a particular source. Professional associations at the state level (in social work, counseling, psychology, and psychiatry) also often provide referrals.
However, much as you want expertise in treating OCD, there are a few additional things to consider when working with a therapist. After you’ve made a selection and begun your work, you want to ask yourself a few questions such as:
- Do you feel comfortable talking about everything with your therapist?
- Does your therapist allow you to express your feelings about therapy?
- Do you feel understood by your therapist?
- Does your therapist seem nonjudgmental for the most part?
- Does your therapist help you to establish goals of therapy?
- Do you feel that there is a plan for helping you achieve these goals?
For many, getting psychotherapy can be a somewhat scary proposition. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but one of great courage. It can take additional courage to decide that you need to find a different therapist. But if your answers to the above list of questions are not uniformly positive, that’s probably what you should do. First try to raise your concerns with your therapist. If the answers don’t feel right, a second opinion never hurts. The last thing you want to do with OCD is to work with someone for a long time and feel judged, not heard, or not have a reasonable set of goals and plans for getting you where you want to go.