OCD treatment options

OCD treatment. Interesting OCD facts

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder facts.

Obsessive-Compulsive disorder (OCD) is treated in a number of different ways, with each OCD treatment reflecting how different people respond to different therapies. The main types of treatment for OCD are psychotherapies and medications, with other treatment options included deep-brain stimulation. Below is an explanation of the different types of treatment available to someone with OCD symptoms and information regarding each type’s effectiveness. These treatments may not always result in a cure but they will, at the very least, help you reduce and manage the symptoms, and allow you to bring stability and control back into your life. OCD treatment (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Exposure and Ritual Prevention therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) is also offered online.

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At Barends Psychology Practice obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment is offered (also online). Go to contact us to schedule a first, free of charge, first session. (Depending on your health insurance, treatment may be reimbursed).


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Treatment options- Psychotherapy

OCD psychotherapy treatments aim to reduce and eliminate OCD symptoms via regular therapy sessions, in which symptoms, their causes and solution are discussed with a therapist, and action is implemented by the patient. The focus is on empowering the OCD sufferer with the skills to help themselves move on from their OCD symptoms and, in some cases, to possible determine the cause of the OCD symptoms. There are a few effective OCD treatment options: Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Exposure and Ritual Prevention (ERP), and Cognitive Restructuring (CR). All four OCD treatment types are discussed below:


How does it work? The therapist focuses on the feelings, emotions and thoughts that lead up compulsive behaviour and on the compulsive behaviour itself. With CBT irrational behaviour and thoughts and their connected feelings and emotions are being challenged with the Socratic dialogue and controlled behavioural experiments. These behavioural experiments are small exercises and they test what happens when someone tries new behaviour. Both therapist and client discuss the possibilities of new exercises and evaluate other exercises. Often, imaginal exposure is being used in therapy as well to experience exposure to fearful and upsetting thoughts.
Effectiveness: Cognitive-behavioural therapy is considered to be the most effective long term treatment of OCD and its symptoms [4],[7]. When compared to other types of psychotherapies, it has the greatest amount of research performed, with the most successful OCD treatment results of any therapy [4]. In regards to long-term success rates, CBT has also out-performed placebos and a number of medications, having higher success rates in lifetime studies [1]. However, when in combination with OCD medication, the success rate of OCD treatment increases [2].
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How does it work? According to study [8] ERP and ACT are very similar in terms of therapy, with only a small difference in therapist-approach. These small differences in approach do not lead to significant differences in therapy effectiveness, and we decided to consider them the same in this paragraph.
With ERP the client focuses on the fearful thoughts (the obsessions) and refrains from performing their rituals. Although this provokes a lot of anxiety in the client, the client will soon realize that this anxiety disappears. By practicing a lot the fearful thoughts become meaningless to the client, which makes it easier for the client to stop their compulsive behaviours.
With ACT the clients focus on decreasing their avoidant and compulsive behaviours, and to attempt to stop controlling internal events. Later in therapy new ways of thinking are being encouraged and exposure to the fearful thoughts is being practiced [8].
Effectiveness: ERP therapy (and ACT) are effective in treating OCD [4],[6],[7],[8]. Over 50% of the OCD symptoms reported by the clients were significantly reduced [4],[6].


How does it work? With Cognitive Restructuring clients focus on the negating irrational thoughts by exposing themselves to anxiety-evoking situations.
Effectiveness: RC is effective in treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder [6],[8]. Just like with ERP, the OCD symptoms significantly reduced after completing the RC therapy [6].

OCD treatment – Medication

Medication can help alleviate some of the OCD symptoms, especially those concerning anxiety. However, medication does not always work and if it does work, then it’s effect is only moderate. In addition to that, medication works only for as long as they are being taken.
For more information about medication that reduces the feelings of depression, click here, and for medication that reduces the feelings of anxiety, click here.
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NOTE: medication cannot make OCD symptoms disappear entirely. It can, however, help with OCD treatment, because they can reduce feelings of anxiety. With reduced levels of anxiety, it’s easier to practice with new (exposure) behaviour.


  • [1] Tundo, A., & Necci, R. (2016). Cognitive-behavioural therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder co-occurring with psychosis: Systematic review of evidence. World J Psychiatr, 6, 449-455.
  • [2] Greisberg, S., & McKay, D. (2003). Neuropsychology of obsessive-compulsive disorder: a review and treatment implications. Clinical psychology review, 23, 95-117.
  • [3] Twohig, M. P., Hayes, S. C., & Masuda, A. (2006). Increasing willingness to experience obsessions: Acceptance and commitment therapy as a treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Behavior therapy, 37, 3-13.
  • [4] Whittal, M. L., Thordarson, D. S., & McLean, P. D., (2005). Treatment of obsessive–compulsive disorder: Cognitive behavior therapy vs. exposure and response prevention. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 43, 1559-1576.
  • [5] Bloch, M. H., Landeros-Weisenberger, A., Kelmendi, B., Coric, V., Bracken, M. B., & Leckman, J. F. (2006). A systematic review: antipsychotic augmentation with treatment refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder. Molecular psychiatry, 11, 622-632.
  • [6] Abramowitz, J. S., Whiteside, S. P., & Deacon, B. J. (2006). The effectiveness of treatment for pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder: A meta-analysis. Behavior Therapy, 36, 55-63.
  • [7] Butler, A. C., Chapman, J. E., Forman, E. M., & Beck, A. T. (2006). The empirical status of cognitive-behavioral therapy: a review of meta-analyses. Clinical psychology review, 26, 17-31.
  • [8] Tolin, D. F. (2009). Alphabet Soup: ERP, CT, and ACT for OCD. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 16, 40-48.