Treatment Programs for Adults

Adults with OCD tend to have obsessive thoughts that are in direct contrast to their values and moral codes which explains why many people with OCD often do not seek treatment until years after being diagnosed. When clients do decide that the time is right to seek treatment, the only well-established psychological treatment for OCD is exposure-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT combines Cognitive Therapy with Exposure Response Prevention (ERP). While ERP has consistently been shown as the treatment of choice for OCD, clients report that “it’s really hard” which impacts on treatment dropout rates. Therefore at The OCD Clinic we include a significant amount work with the Cognitive Model before moving onto ERP. We find this approach makes it easier for clients to complete the Behaviour Therapy component of treatment.

Do I have to take medication?

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication is the medication of choice for OCD. Research shows about 70% of people respond to medication and typically higher dosages are required for longer compared to other affective disorders. In many cases, CBT alone is highly effective in treating OCD, but for some people, a combination of CBT and medication is also effective.  Medication may reduce the anxiety enough for a person to start, and eventually succeed, in therapy. The decision to do “combination therapy” is largely dependent on the severity of the condition and the length of illness. However, ultimately the decision to commence medication is made between yourself and your Psychiatrist or General Practitioner.

Disclaimer: The information on this page is very general and should not be seen as treatment advice. You should consult a Psychiatrist or General Practitioner for professional advice on medication.

How successful are the standard treatments?

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is the only scientifically-supported behavioural treatment for OCD.  It is recommended by leading national authorities, including the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Research has shown that 68% (Ost, Havnen, Hansen & Kvale, 2010) of people with OCD are significantly helped by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The average CBT program for OCD ranges from 12-16 sessions, however, it can be longer depending of the length and severity of the illness.

What is my treatment program going to look like?

At the OCD Clinic we offer individually tailored treatment plans or we have an Adult OCD manual written by Director Dr Emily O’Leary. Whether it is an individually formulated approach or a manual-based approach, the pathway is generally the same:

  • Psychoeducation and Formulation about OCD
  • Cognitive Therapy to create an alternative explanation for the problem
  • Applied de-arousal techniques Fight and Flight
  • Break the maintaining factors of OCD
  • Modify core beliefs through cognitive restructuring and behavioural experiments.
  • Exposure Response Prevention
  • Behavioural Experiments
  • Relapse prevention

Is therapy right for you?