I’ve been an advocate for OCD awareness for about eight years now and have communicated directly with hundreds of people who either have obsessive-compulsive disorder, or love someone with OCD. I have seen great strides made in reducing stigma, as well as in OCD awareness and education, and am happy to report that I strongly believe we are moving in the right direction.
Then why do I receive email after email from people who are not getting the right help for their OCD? Either they are ill-informed and/or have been steered in the wrong direction, or they know what help they need, but just can’t find good therapy. It’s heartbreaking to have an illness that is treatable, be willing to get treatment, but hitting a brick wall no matter how hard you try. I’ve often said that I believe one of the hardest aspets of having OCD is finding the right help.
Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, the first line psychological treatment approach as recommended by the American Psychological Association, is the evidence-based therapy that is successful in treating OCD. Still, with all our advocacy work, so many people, including many therapists, are not aware of this therapy or choose not to use it. This is so frustrating, and unacceptable. To me, it’s akin to having a specific type of treatable cancer and then going to a doctor who says, “Yes, we could use the evidence-based treatment for your cancer, but I think I’d like to try something different.” None of us would (or should) stand for this type of treatment and none of us should accept anything less than good ERP therapy for our, or our loved ones, obsessive-compulsive disorder.
To make things even more difficult, there are therapists who say they use ERP, but are not properly trained in it. I highly recommend checking out the IOCDF website, which has a wealth of information including a list of questions you can ask potential therapists. And once you have found a health-care provider and are getting into the ERP therapy, you can evaluate your therapist and therapy.
Finding the right help, and overcoming obsessive-compulsive disorder, often involves a good deal of research, trial and error, and courage. In short, it is not easy. But then again, nothing worthwhile rarely is.