Treatment Provider Search
The International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) hosts a wonderful treatment provider search that can be used when looking for an OCD provider in your area: https://iocdf.org/find-help
Exposure with response prevention (ERP)
Exposure with Response Prevention also known as ERP is the gold standard treatment for OCD. ERP is a specific form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD. The basic principles of ERP for OCD is to face your fears without engaging in rituals (exposure + ritual prevention). ERP is challenging and might sound much simpler than it often is. This should be done in a slow and systematic way and a hierarchy (a list of your fears in order of least anxiety-provoking to most anxiety-provoking) is often used to help you plan exposures from your lowest levels working your way up to your high-level exposures. ERP and hierarchy building should be done with an OCD specialist. Exposures should be something that anyone is willing to do, should not be a surprise to the person with OCD and often are done together with the individuals and their clinician.
Important ERP steps
- Understand your OCD and OCD symptoms
- Identify a fear to work on
- Develop an OCD hierarchy for your fear
- Rank exposures for your fear on a scale from 1-10
- 1 should be at the bottom of your hierarchy and should be the least anxiety-provoking exposures and 10 is at the top and should be the most challenging exposures
- Begin exposures with ritual prevention
- Systematically work your way up your hierarchy starting with the lower level exposures and working your way up to the high-level exposures.
- Exposures should be done without rituals. If it is too difficult for you to do an exposure without ritualizing, start with a lower level exposure which you can do without rituals.
- An exposure should be repeated multiple times without any rituals. Once an exposure no longer causes distress/anxiety (you find this exposure boring) you can move up to the next higher-level exposure
- Continue this approach until you reach the top of your hierarchy at which point you can move onto another OCD hierarchy if you have one or can begin relapse management for your OCD
- ERP should be practiced daily. It is important even when you are in the management stage, that when you feel triggered, or have the urge to ritualize you practice and engage in ERP.
- Repeated exposures with ritual prevention will allow you to habituate to a fear. Anytime you engage in a ritual both the fear and OCD cycle are reinforced.
DISCLAIMER: The content found here is intended to serve as educational content and is not intended to replace therapy. For treatment-related questions, please be sure to work with your local provider or contact a local clinician.