As I’ve said many times before, I credit my son Dan’s recovery from severe OCD to his commitment to Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy. When Dan was going through treatment, I knew very little about obsessive-compulsive disorder, and didn’t realize that his unwavering commitment to engage in this distressing therapy was not necessarily the norm.
The problem with ERP Therapy is not that it doesn’t work; it does. But the very nature of this therapy causes intense anxiety in those that suffer from OCD, and often those with the disorder will either refuse to continue it, or not even attempt it at all. I have always found this hard to comprehend, as those with OCD are already suffering. So why not vamp up the anxiety with the promise of a huge payoff? This is just one of the aspects of OCD that is difficult for a non-sufferer to understand.
Dr. Adam Radomsky, a professor in the Department of Psychology at Concordia University in Canada, says, “Refusal rates for ERP are unacceptably high, which is why we need to develop a new and refined treatment that specifically works for compulsive checking.”
Dr. Radomsky is testing a new therapy for OCD, specifically for those who have compulsive checking rituals. This treatment is based on the belief that OCD sufferers who compulsively check do so because they have an inflated sense of responsibility.
Whether this new treatment program will work remains to be seen. But just the fact that research is going on and new therapies are being developed is exciting to me. Millions of people suffer from OCD. Surely the more treatment options that are available to them, the more chance there is for a successful recovery from the disorder.
This seems like a fitting time for me to “thank” Dr. Victor Meyer, a British psychologist, who back in 1966 had the courage to apply to humans what had been successful in animal studies. Though other therapists were afraid to try it with their patients, Dr. Meyer began intensive ERP Therapy with two hospitalized patients with severe OCD. Both recovered enough to go on to live “normal” lives, as has my son Dan, over forty years later.
We need to support research for all aspects of OCD, and we need to support the researchers as well. Those who take risks, and those who step outside the box to help those suffering from OCD, are doing more than just research. They are creating hope for a recovery for all those who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder.