What is the Treatment for OCD?

Sep 29, 2009 | Author: Bio Behavioral Institute


A combination of cognitive, behavioral, and pharmacological treatment has been shown to be the most effective combination for OCD. The form of behavior therapy found to be the most effective for OCD is called “exposure and response prevention.”


Our Institute is one of the few facilities in the country that specializes in intensive ERP treatment for OCD. ERP is a systematic and structured method of behavior therapy that has been experimentally tested and scientifically found to be effective for OCD. It is composed of two components. The first component is “exposure” and the second is “response prevention.” Exposure consists of gradual exposure to various situations that are feared and avoided due to the OCD. At the same time, patients are asked to prevent themselves from engaging in their compulsions, which is called “response prevention”

The scientific rational behind ERP is that continuously confronting feared situations eventually leads to decreases in anxiety. During an exposure session, patients are actually asked to participate in situations that are fearful for them while resisting their urges to perform their rituals. Patients who experience an initially high level of anxiety which decreases during an exposure exercise are the most successful. Patients are NEVER asked to participate in an exposure situation that would be harmful to them. Therapy always progresses according to the pace of the patient. The benefit of ERP is that patients often see positive changes quickly. Patients are also taught the skills to do ERP exercises independently as homework assignments and for the purpose of coping with any symptoms that may reappear.


Cognitive therapy is based upon the theory that extreme emotional reactions are the result of faulty beliefs. The goal is to educate patients in the skills necessary to identify and change these mistaken beliefs and to replace them with logical ones. The result is a more balanced and moderate view of oneself, one’s life problems, and the world, leading to more positive emotional responses and more effective behaviors.

In cognitive therapy for OCD, the aim is to modify the following common OCD irrational beliefs:

  • Overinflated sense of responsibility
  • Overappraisal of threat and danger .
  • Need for control
  • Uneasiness with uncertainty/ambiguity
  • Fusing of thoughts with actions
  • Tremendous importance given to thoughts
  • Need for perfection
It is our practice to include cognitive therapy within behavior therapy sessions. Cognitive therapy may be used initially in certain cases in which the patient is either severely depressed and/or anxious and unable to proceed with behavior therapy.


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