OCD is a treatable illness, and with the right treatment a majority of people who engage with therapy get a good quality of life back. This factsheet can take you through some steps to help you engage with the right treatment and achieve this for yourself. This can be helpful if it’s your first time getting treatment for OCD and don’t know what to expect, or if you’ve been through treatment before but didn’t get the results you wanted.
Ensure that you are being offered the treatment you need
The only recommended therapy for OCD is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). This is a specialised type of CBT, so general CBT for anxiety is unlikely to bring to an improvement of your symptoms. If you are unsure about whether you are getting the right type of CBT, please look at our Checklist about what it should and shouldn’t look like.
You can also check our Medication factsheet to be sure you are being prescribed recommended medication.
Request session times that you can attend
Ideally, you want to be able attend, and be on time for, as many sessions as possible. Unfortunately, difficulty leaving the house, travelling, or other commitments can make this difficult. If you see any barriers to your attendance, try to discuss these with your therapist beforehand. They may be able to offer to see you at a more convenient time. Some specialist services offer intensive therapy over a brief period if they deem this is necessary or better for your situation.
Be honest with your therapist
It’s important to communicate the contents of your obsessions. Avoiding this is a bit like not mentioning your symptoms when you go to the doctor. A really big part of OCD is the shame that comes with it, so it’s understandable that some people might want to keep their intrusive thoughts secret. However, this reinforces the idea that they are something to be feared, or that you are alone. Also, your therapist will be most able to help you if they know exactly what you’re experiencing and what you’re fighting against.
Do your homework
As with attendance, the more time you put into tackling OCD, the more you will get out of it. It’s important to take part in any exposure exercises that are set, that way the progress made within sessions can be applied to the rest of your life.
If you are having trouble with the homework, or you have concerns around whether you will be able to take part in it, speak to your therapist. They can only help you with what they know!
Consider joining a support group
Some people find it helpful to attend support groups. This can be a way of keeping your motivation up between sessions and an opportunity to connect with other people who are in a similar position. You can find a list of support groups that we work with using the OCD Action search tool. Alternatively, we also run some groups that meet over the phone, which are useful if there are no face to face groups near you or you have trouble leaving the house.
Consider using our Next Steps service
The OCD Action Helpline offers a support service to help you engage with your CBT. The Next Steps service links you with a volunteer for up to 12 weekly sessions over the phone to discuss how your therapy is going, how you’re finding the homework, and anything else that might be coming up around your OCD alongside treatment. If you are interested in accessing this service, you can email the Helpline Assistant, Cecilia, about it on Cecilia@ocdaction.org.uk.