As many of you could probably tell from last week’s post, I find it incredibly frustrating that more people (including therapists) are not aware of exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, the specific type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that is the first-line psychological treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder.
This week I’d like to do an about-face and acknowledge the many dedicated professionals (albeit not enough of them to go around) who work very hard to treat OCD properly. While the basic premise of ERP therapy is simple – facing your fears – its implementation can be quite complicated. As we know, each person who has OCD comes with his or her unique combination of obsessions and compulsions, and treatment with ERP is rarely as straightforward as we might expect. That’s why it is of the utmost importance to find a healthcare provider who is experienced and well trained in ERP therapy.
Dr. Seth Gillihan, my friend and co-author of Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery has a new blog on Psychology Today called Think, Act, Be which focuses on “Reclaiming Life With CBT.” In his recent post, “Seven Ways Therapists Can Mess Up the Best OCD Treatment,” Seth discusses seven mistakes new ERP therapists commonly make. I think this information is invaluable to heed, not only for therapists, but also for those with OCD and their loved ones. My guess is the more everyone involved in the treatment process understands ERP therapy and how it actually works, the more likely treatment will be successful.
I think one of Seth’s greatest strengths as a writer is his ability to educate and connect with both professionals and lay people. I hope you’ll check out the “insider information” on ERP that he provides in this post; knowledge that is not only useful to those of us whose lives have been touched by OCD, but also to those who are learning how to best help us.