OCD and Health Insurance

by vectorolie at freedigitalphotos.net

by vectorolie at freedigitalphotos.net

Nothing about obsessive-compulsive disorder is easy. If you or a loved one suffer from OCD, you likely know what I mean. Aside from having to deal with the actual symptoms of the disorder, you also have to work on getting the proper diagnosis, understanding what OCD really is, perhaps learning how to not enable your loved one with the disorder, and finding the right treatment. Achieving each one of these objectives is a major accomplishment.

Let’s say you’ve completed all these stepping-stones toward your goal of recovery and you’ve either found a great therapist, or at least know what type of therapy you or your loved one needs.

How are you going to pay for it?

Many of us cannot afford to pay for medical treatment without health insurance. I’ve previously written about the advantages of living near a large research university and the possibility of receiving free treatment there. What I’d like to touch upon today, however, is how to get what you rightfully deserve from your  own health insurance company.

Dr. Fred Penzel has written a gem of an article on this topic. I highly recommend reading it even if it’s not relevant to your current situation. The information he provides, while specifically meant for those seeking treatment for OCD, can be useful when dealing with other illnesses as well.

Here, in my opinion, is one of the most important things Dr. Penzel has to say:

There is a little secret that your insurance doesn’t want you to know about. The rules say that your company is responsible for providing you with adequate treatment by properly trained practitioners. 

This is something my family dealt with at one point when trying to find a good therapist for Dan. Our insurance company gave us a list of psychologists and social workers who were “qualified” to treat OCD. After calling each and every one of them on the list, it was clear to me that not one of them specialized in treating OCD. Some of them had never even heard of exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy.

Try explaining that to the insurance company: that their qualified mental health professionals really aren’t qualified after all. As I said at the beginning of this post, nothing pertaining to OCD is easy. But Dr. Penzel walks us through exactly what needs to be done to get the proper treatment we deserve. And by proper treatment, I mean a competent, experienced therapist who is trained in exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, whether they are “in-network” or not.

In our own case, I did end up finding a wonderful therapist who wasn’t on “the list” but fortunately was an in-network provider. He was my son’s therapist for over three years, and I’m grateful that we did not end up having to fight for Dan to see him.

In his article, Dr. Penzel reminds us that our insurance companies aren’t doing us any favors or bending over backwards for us when we insist on what is rightly ours and they actually comply. We pay good money for our benefits, and as much as these for-profit companies might try to tell us otherwise, they are legally required to pay for proper care.

Of course, this brings up another issue: the shortage of proper care. Sigh. As I said, nothing about OCD is easy.










Posted in Mental Health, OCD | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I’m a Little OCD

woman reading bookI’ve been busy going into bookstores and libraries to promote my book, and there has been a strong interest in it. I chat with the appropriate people, tell them a little bit about the book, and hand them a promotional flyer. I’ve been surprised at the number of times I’ve heard this comment, or something similar:

“Oh, I have to read your book, because I’m a little OCD myself.”

How do I respond? It’s a tough situation, because I don’t really know whether the person in question actually has OCD or not. My gut feeling is they probably don’t, because if they did, they wouldn’t be saying “I’m a little OCD.”

The first time it happened I was in a rush, and I’m embarrassed to admit I just smiled and left. But it kept happening, always in situations where either I or the person talking with me didn’t have a lot of time to spare.

I wanted to be respectful, but I also wanted to tell the speaker that OCD is a noun, not a verb, and my guess is their saying they are “a little OCD” is likely comparable to someone saying “I’m a little Crohn’s” when they are dealing with a stomach ache. Crohn’s, like OCD, is a disease, whereas a stomach ache or some compulsive habits you might have are symptoms which may or may not indicate you suffer from the illness.

Then again, I’m just speculating. Maybe these people I’m meeting really do have OCD.  It’s possible, right? After all, who am I to discourage anyone from reading my book? :)

So my response has been something like, “OCD is such  a misunderstood and misrepresented illness, which is one of the reasons why I believe this book is so important. I hope you’re getting the right help if you do have OCD.”

They usually just smile and shrug my comment off, saying “It’s not that big a deal,” which again leads me to believe they don’t actually have OCD.

Many of those who blog about OCD, myself included, have written at least one post about how upsetting this can be to hear OCD thrown around so lightly, and incorrectly, so I’m not going to get into that again here. But I did want to mention how much it’s been happening to me, as it shows we still have such a long way to go in raising awareness and understanding of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

So I will continue my door-to-door sales approach and respond as I have been to the “I’m a little OCD” comments. And I do hope all these people, whether they really have OCD or not, will read the book. If they have OCD, I hope the book will encourage them to work as hard as they can toward recovery, and if they don’t have OCD, they will certainly learn what it really is.

If anyone has any suggestions for a response, I’m all ears!


Posted in Mental Health, OCD | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

Welcome to OCD CT!

Many of you are familiar with the IOCDF (International OCD Foundation), which is an amazing organization dedicated to helping those with OCD. For many, it is often the first stop in their journey against OCD.
What you may or may not know is that there are affiliates of the IOCDF throughout the USA, with many of the same goals as the IOCDF, but on a local level.
OCD Connecticut is one of the newest affiliates, and they are trying to get the word out about their organization. If you live in or around Connecticut, please consider attending their upcoming free conference:
“Living with OCD”
Free Conference on Saturday, October 18th, 2014.
It will be held at the Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, CT from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.  Topics will include the diagnosis and best practice treatments for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and there will be breakout support groups sessions for adults, teens and family members.  For more information and to register for the program, please visit our website at: www.ocdct.org.
Good luck to everyone at OCD CT! If anyone out there is interested in starting an affiliate in their own area, you can get started here!
Posted in Mental Health, OCD | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Self-Directed ERP Therapy

Janet (ocdtalk):

Had to share this great post by my friend Jackie. A must read if you’ve been making excuses to avoid ERP!

Originally posted on Jackie Lea Sommers:

???????????????????????????????????????If you’ve spent any time hanging around this blog, you know that I’m a huge proponent of treating OCD with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy, which is the best treatment available. It’s the first and only* treatment I recommend.

People often balk at it, which I understand: it’s difficult. Very difficult. People want an easier option. But I wouldn’t recommend a bandaid for a cancerous tumor, and I won’t suggest anything else.

But I’m too embarrassed …

But I can’t afford it …

But there are no ERP specialists in my area …

Those are all very valid reasons for seeking another treatment option, but the GOOD NEWS is that you can treat ERP on your own, if you are committed to it, and if you’re willing to work hard.

It’s still important to have an expert guiding you, so please track down one of the following books:

Stop Obsessing

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Posted in Mental Health | 2 Comments

How to Stop Enabling OCD Sufferers

FreeDigitalPhotos.net by David Castillo Dominici

FreeDigitalPhotos.net by David Castillo Dominici

Over the years, I’ve written quite a few posts that discuss OCD and family interactions, and the general consensus seems to be that the single most helpful thing loved ones can do for those suffering from OCD is not enable them. While our instincts might tell us to do whatever we can to reduce our loved one’s suffering, instincts are typically not correct when dealing with OCD, an illness that follows no logic.

Okay, so we know we are not supposed to enable. But how, exactly, do we stop? When I’ve been posed this question before, I usually recommend families discuss their individual situations with their loved one’s therapist. Unfortunately, I’ve heard from many family members who are shut out completely from their loved one’s therapy, and are left trying to figure it all out on their own.

So let’s take an example. Perhaps your daughter’s OCD revolves around contamination and you have gotten to the point where you do her laundry separately, using the rituals she has demanded, in order to keep her anxiety down. This has evolved into sometimes hours of extra laundry time for you, often having to start over if she feels you didn’t do something “right.” You’ve decided enough is enough, you realize what you are doing is only strengthening your daughter’s OCD, and you’re determined to stop. I’m not a therapist, but here are some of my thoughts:

  • You could tell your daughter you will not be enabling her in this area in any way, shape, or form any longer. You will do her laundry with the rest of the household laundry, or she can learn to do her own. I think, in most cases, it makes sense to discuss this beforehand and come up with a starting date.
  • You could (possibly with her assistance) devise a plan to stop the enabling gradually. For example, you could first cut out the rituals related to the washing machine, and then move on to rituals related to the dryer, then those involving handling or folding clothing. You need to decide on a timetable, stand firm, and  stick to it.

That doesn’t sound so hard, right? I have to admit, in our family’s case, it was relatively easy to stop accommodating Dan. This was mainly because he was so invested in getting well that he reacted positively when we told him we wouldn’t be enabling him anymore.  The best advice we received when Dan left his residential treatment program was, “Treat him normally, and expect the same things from him as you would from your children who don’t have OCD.”

But as I’ve written before, OCD is often messy. The daughter in this post might fly into a rage, refuse to acknowledge you, or cry for days once the enabling stops. Parents might disagree on how, when, and even if, enabling should end. The whole thing could be so agonizing for the entire family that you just revert back to enabling. And this is a simplified scenario; it often gets even more complicated, depending on what type of enabling is going on, and how old the OCD sufferer is.

As long as you enable your loved one with OCD, the less likely they are to try to free themselves from OCD’s grip. Why should they? They have little incentive to get better. If your loved one’s therapist is unwilling to meet with you to discuss this crucial step toward recovery, it might be time to consider finding another therapist; one who realizes the importance of teaching families how not to enable.

If you have any suggestions about how not to enable, I’d love to hear them!




Posted in Mental Health, OCD | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Overcoming OCD – An Update

Well, here it is! I’m pleased with how the cover of Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery turned out, and hope you all like it too.

Our publication date of January 16, 2015 is less than four months away! Seth and I are now completely done with the book and it is in the hands of our publisher. Our current focus is to spread the word about it, so that we can reach, and hopefully help, as many people as possible.

One way to accomplish this goal of making the book available to everyone who might benefit from it is by approaching librarians and asking them to consider ordering the book from our publisher. If you frequent your local library (and even if you don’t) and feel that Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery might be an important addition to its inventory, I would so appreciate it if you could request that it be ordered. From what I understand, librarians do listen to what the public wants, and even appreciate recommendations.

One more exciting thing to report is that we will be having a Book Launch event on February 28, 2015 from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm at Tatnuck Booksellers in Westborough, Massachusetts. If you live within driving distance, or are adventurous and willing to travel to New England in the dead of winter, I would love to see you there! I anticipate that Seth and I will both speak and I will read from the book as well. We will also do book signings. It should be a great afternoon, so please mark the date on your calendars if there is any chance you can make it! Of course I will be updating everyone as the date approaches.

Another reminder: If you pre-order the book here by  January 30, 2016, you can save some money. Use the promotion code 4S15OCDBK at checkout for 30% off! This promotion  cannot be combined with other promo or discount offers.

Thank you again to all of you for your support and encouragement on the road to publication. We are almost there!

Posted in Mental Health, OCD | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

Helping Teachers Understand OCD

studentI’ve previously written about how important and necessary I believe it is for educators to have, at the very least, a basic knowledge of brain disorders. I recently came across some  articles at the Child Mind Institute site that I think are excellent resources about OCD for teachers (and parents as well). Now that most children have been back at school for a while, previously unanticipated issues or concerns might be arising. If this is the case in your family, I highly recommend checking out these links, and even sharing them with the appropriate school personnel:

A Teacher’s Guide to Understanding OCD

What Does OCD Look Like in the Classroom?

A Teacher’s Guide to Helping Kids with OCD

It’s hard enough for children with OCD to have to deal with school and their disorder without being misunderstood by their teachers. I think the above articles are a good stepping stone toward getting young OCD sufferers the support and understanding they deserve.



Posted in Mental Health, OCD | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments