Importance of OCD Clinics

A treatment plan can help promote collaboration between a person with OCD and a mental health professional, guide the treatment process, and encourage a more active role in recovery. A treatment plan can also help individuals with OCD feel empowered and hopeful about their future.

Most people with OCD benefit from a combination of therapy and medication. Two of the most effective therapies for treating mental health conditions are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention, also known as ERP.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy is the gold-standard treatment for OCD. This approach teaches patients to confront their fears, tolerate anxiety, and resist engaging in compulsive behaviors. CBT is most effective when combined with exposure and response prevention (ERP).

ERP involves slowly exposing yourself to the objects or situations that trigger your obsessions while refraining from performing your compulsions. Your therapist will work with you to create a list of feared situations, starting with those that cause only mild anxiety and building up to more challenging ones.

CBT can be done on a one-on-one basis or in group therapy. Some people prefer to attend group therapy because they can learn from and support others with similar struggles. Those with severe OCD may benefit from intensive outpatient care or residential programs emphasizing ERP therapy principles. Medications can also be combined with CBT to achieve more rapid results. Commonly prescribed medications include SSRIs, which act on the serotonin system.

Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy

The most well-researched treatment for OCD is exposure and response prevention (ERP). Patients practice facing their fears without engaging in compulsions. As they do this, their anxiety and distress naturally decrease, breaking the conditioned response between obsessions and compulsions.

Individuals work with a trained ERP professional to identify their triggers and feared stimuli during ERP. They then rank these in a hierarchy of least to most distressing. During this phase, they may engage in both in vivo and imaginal exposures. Imaginal exposures involve envisioning the feared stimuli while refraining from performing a compulsive behavior. In vivo exposures require them to face the feared situation or object.

OCD Clinic Boulder therapists will start with low to moderately anxiety-provoking exposures and gradually increase these as the person improves. It typically takes several months for people to get significant relief from their symptoms through ERP. Once they reach this point, they can begin practicing ERP independently at home as part of relapse prevention planning.

Psychodynamic therapy

In psychodynamic therapy, patients work one-on-one with a therapist in a safe and confidential setting. This form of treatment helps patients identify the underlying emotions that trigger OCD symptoms. This allows them to take control of their symptoms and live a more fulfilling life.

The therapist may use art or music to help the patient express their feelings. They may also discuss how past experiences contribute to current mental health issues. The therapist will observe the client’s behavior during sessions to assess their progress. They may also recommend other treatments, such as ACT.

A key element of psychodynamic therapy is the concept of transference. This happens when people project their anxieties onto current events or relationships. In psychodynamic therapy, therapists can help clients understand how these adverse reactions are connected to their past experiences. This helps them overcome their anxiety and live a more fulfilling life.


Medications for OCD can take time to show their benefits, so you must work with your psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner to take them consistently. You can use pillboxes, phone reminders, or family support to help you stay on track. If you skip taking your medications, your symptoms will likely return and worsen.

CBT and ERP are very effective for many people with OCD, but for some, a combination of these therapies and medication is necessary to achieve success. The most common medications for OCD are antidepressants that act on the serotonin system, such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine.

If you resist treatment, a specialist in OCD can recommend other options, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and deep brain surgery. Counselors can provide effective coping mechanisms to help manage your symptoms and enhance your overall quality of life. Additionally, taking medications can significantly alleviate the intensity of your symptoms and alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression.