If you are ready to get treatment for your OCD, congratulations on starting this important journey! Your first step will be to find a therapist.

A therapist is someone who works in the mental health field and provides therapy as a treatment. Therapists can have doctoral degrees (including PhD, PsyD, EdD) or masters degrees (including MSW, MA, MS). They can be in disciplines such as psychology, social work, counseling, and marriage and family therapy. This describes the main backgrounds and titles for therapists in the United States. Depending on where in the world you live, there may be other professional titles and backgrounds for people that are able to help you.

Therapists have different types of education and training. However, there's no inherent benefit or drawback to seeing one type over another. All types of therapists, whether they have a doctorate or a masters, are trained to do this work and are qualified to help you.

Tips for Finding the Right Therapist

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right therapist. There are practical matters to consider, such as whether they accept your insurance and whether their office location is convenient for you. You also need to make sure that your new therapist is someone who you will feel comfortable working with. Excited Boy Talking to Psychologist. Anxiety In Athletes.

Also, remember that some therapists are better at treating OCD than others. It is important to interview therapists to find out if they know how to do exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy well. Your initial consultation may be done over the phone or in person.

Mental health professionals are also increasingly providing their services via video conferencing or over the phone, a practice called "teletherapy." Find a teletherapy provider in your state.

Whichever way you receive your OCD treatment, remember:

  • You have the right to ask questions. This is your life and mental health!
  • If the therapist is guarded, withholds information, or becomes angry at your requests for information, you should probably look elsewhere.
  • If the therapist appreciates how important a decision this is for you and is open, friendly, and knowledgeable, you may have a gem of a therapist!
  • Your relationship with the therapist is important, especially since they will potentially be asking you to do things that you find uncomfortable as part of your treatment.

Here are some good questions to ask as you consider whether the therapist is a good fit:

  1. “What techniques do you use to treat OCD?”

    If the therapist is vague or does not mention cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), exposure and response prevention (ERP), or other evidence-based treatments, use caution.

  2. “Are you familiar with exposure and response prevention to treat OCD?”

    Be cautious of therapists who say they use CBT but won’t be more specific.

  3. “What is your training and background in treating OCD?"

    Training backgrounds and licensing titles for mental health professionals that treat OCD can look different, as described at the beginning of this page. You might even want to consider seeking a pre-licensed trainee that works directly under the supervision of a specialist. In the end, the important thing is to ask about their familiarity with OCD and treating it following evidence-based practices.

  4. “How much of your practice currently involves OCD?”

    A good answer would be over 25%, as this likely means they have a specialty in working with OCD. That said, if they answer your other questions to your satisfaction, don’t let a low number or percentage prevent you from seeing them.

  5. “Do you feel that you have been effective in your treatment of OCD?”

    This should be an unqualified “Yes.”

  6. “What is your attitude towards medication in the treatment of OCD?”

    If they are negative about medication, this is a bad sign. While not for everyone, medication can be a very effective treatment for OCD. Learn more about OCD medication and their dosages.

  7. “Are you willing to leave your office if needed to do exposure work?”

    It is sometimes necessary to go out of the office to do effective ERP, so the answer should be “Yes.” If they say “No,” ask them “How come?” to figure out what limitations they may have and how they might be able to work within or around them to support your treatment journey.

  8. "Do you include families in any of the treatment?"

    OCD can be very isolating. It also may involve or otherwise heavily impact the family. Parents/guardians, caretakers, and other family members are an important part of a person's OCD treatment. Therefore, they should be involved in many ways. The therapist should be open to including family members as part of the treatment plan and team.

  9. "Have you received cultural competence training? Or, have you taken courses on issues surrounding race, ethnicity, or culture?"

    Use caution if the therapist is vague or says they have not pursued opportunities to do so.

  10. "Are you or members of your staff bilingual? If not, have you received appropriate training in working with interpreters?"

    If you or a family member speak a language other than English, use caution.

  11. "Do you have experience treating people who look/identify like me?"

    The answer should be “Yes.”

  12. "How would you include aspects of my cultural identity, such as age, faith, gender, race, or sexual orientation, in my care?"

    Symptoms of OCD, and treatment recommendations, can vary across cultures. The therapist should be able to state examples of how they will take a culturally mindful approach to provide services to you/your family.

Some positive signs that can help you learn more about a therapist’s training:

  • They are a member of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF)
  • They are a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT)
  • The therapist has attended specialized workshops focused on OCD and its treatment, like the one offered by the IOCDF’s Behavior Therapy Training Institute (BTTI)
  • They have attended the Annual OCD Conference.
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