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Support for OCD: How to Find an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Therapist

Are you or your loved one seeking an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) therapist? If so, finding a qualified professional to help you manage the condition can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are many resources available that can help you find an OCD therapist near you.  This article will walk you through the types of therapy used to […]

isbell oliva garcia grow therapy By Isbell Oliva-Garcia, LMHC

Updated on Jan 12, 2024

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Are you or your loved one seeking an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) therapist? If so, finding a qualified professional to help you manage the condition can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are many resources available that can help you find an OCD therapist near you. 

This article will walk you through the types of therapy used to treat OCD, what to expect in a session, and how to locate an OCD therapist near you who can offer the best treatment options for your particular needs.

What Is an OCD Therapist?

An OCD therapist is a mental health professional who provides therapeutic intervention for individuals suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

OCD therapists are trained to diagnose the disorder’s underlying causes and provide appropriate treatment and support. OCD therapists work in various settings, including private practice, hospitals, clinics, and community mental health centers. They may also collaborate with other mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists and psychologists, to provide comprehensive treatment and care.

OC-Spectrum Disorders Therapists Treat

OCDrelated disorders (OC-spectrum disorders) that an OCD therapist can treat include:

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

BDD is a condition where an individual is preoccupied with their body image

While many people sometimes feel unhappy about their appearance, these thoughts come and go. However, the idea of a bodily flaw is highly distressing for people with BDD. The body defect may be negligible or even imagined, but it adversely affects the individual’s self-image and esteem. As a result, individuals with this mental illness may engage in compulsive rituals like mirror checking, skin picking, and reassurance seeking. If untreated, BDD can lead to depression, extreme anxiety, self-harm, or suicide.

Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding disorder refers to the unwillingness to let items go. The items in question may be of little use in the eyes of others, but individuals with hoarding disorder have immense difficulty throwing these items away.

Trichotillomania 

Trichotillomania (TTM), or hair-pulling disorder, is a body-focused repetitive behavior where an individual cannot resist the compulsion to pull out hair from their body. People with TTM use fingers, tweezers, or other devices to pull out hair from their eyelashes, scalp, eyebrows, and other body parts.

Hair pulling eventually leads to bald patches with unusual shapes, which the individual may try to conceal using scarves, hats, and artificial eyelashes. 

Skin-Picking Disorder

Skin-picking disorder (SPD), also referred to as excoriation disorder, causes individuals to regularly rub or pick at their skin involuntarily during times of anxiety and stress or in an attempt to remove real or imagined imperfections. This compulsive behavior eventually causes unwanted bruises, cuts, and even bleeding.

People with SPD spend a lot of time performing the skin-picking ritual, eventually causing themselves immense distress and impairment. 

Who Can Benefit from an OCD Therapist?

OCD affects people of all ages. According to experts, OCD commonly begins between the ages of 8-12, and about one in every 200 children and young adults suffer from the condition. The statistics show that everyone, regardless of age, might need OCD therapy services to provide them with necessary support.

If you experience intrusive, unwanted thoughts and engage in repetitive behaviors or rituals to alleviate your anxiety, you might be living with OCD. The condition can negatively impact your daily life, work, relationships, and overall well-being. Therefore, it’s important to seek professional help to manage OCD symptoms.

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According to Deborah Harland, MSW, LCSW, and a provider with Grow Therapy, “An individual may consider seeing an OCD therapist if they are experiencing symptoms of obsessions such as intrusive, unwanted, and distressing thoughts, images, or urges repeatedly occurring and interfering with daily functioning. Or if they are experiencing compulsive behaviors such as engaging in repetitive rituals as a response to obsessions that are often time-consuming and can disrupt daily activities.”

You don’t have to be diagnosed with OCD to benefit from therapy. Sometimes, people can have OCD tendencies that are not severe enough to warrant the diagnostic criteria but still cause significant distress and affect their functioning. 

Types of OCD Therapies

When it comes to treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, several different types of therapies prove effective. These include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is solution-focused psychotherapy that helps individuals with mental health problems cope and navigate problematic thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. A psychotherapist helps people with OCD identify negative thought patterns and teaches them skills to challenge and replace those thoughts with more realistic and positive ones.

CBT is effective in treating OCD and related disorders. According to research, 75% of people who undergo CBT for OCD get positive changes. Studies also indicate that CBT effectively treats other related mental illnesses such as anxiety disorder, social phobias, relationship issues, substance use, panic disorders, and eating disorders.

CBT is used for treating OCD in young adults, children, adolescents, families, and couples. During CBT, your therapist will assist you in identifying the thoughts or situations that cause distress and whether they are valid. The aim is to empower you to change maladaptive thought patterns or responses and lead a better life.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy 

Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy used as the gold standard in treating OCD and OC-spectrum disorders. ERP therapy involves gradually exposing the person with OCD to their feared thoughts, images, objects, or experiences while helping to prevent them from engaging in compulsive behaviors

ERP aims to teach an individual that the stimuli, thoughts, or stressors that trigger compulsions are bearable. The therapist helps the client understand triggers, maintain their fear response, and develop coping mechanisms to break the maladaptive responses.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is an effective evidence-based treatment for OCD. Through ACT, individuals learn to stop denying, avoiding, or struggling with their inner emotions. The psychotherapist helps the person with OCD to understand that deeper feelings are an appropriate reaction to certain situations.

ACT also treats OCD-related conditions such as depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and social anxiety disorder.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) combines CBT, ERP, and mindfulness practices. The therapist helps people with OCD and related mental issues develop awareness of their thoughts and feelings. In the process, patients learn coping skills by observing those thoughts in a safe space without judgment or needing to act on them.

Patients learn mindfulness meditation techniques such as deep breathing exercises and yoga to help them manage intrusive thought patterns. Other spectrum disorders that MBCT treats include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, and general emotional distress.

How to Find an OCD Therapist 

If you are looking for an OCD therapist, you may wonder where to start. Here are some steps to help you find the right OCD therapist for you:

Look Online

Online resources benefit your search for a therapist. Grow Therapy allows you to search online for therapists by location, specialty, and insurance. Our team of experts helps connect you to an experienced and qualified psychotherapist who:

You can book directly through the Grow Therapy platform, and in most cases, you will meet your therapist of choice within two days.

Contact Professional Organizations

Some mental health organizations have an online database where you can locate a licensed therapist. You can also search for a specialist like a licensed marriage and family therapist (LFMT) or a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Popular online directories include the American Psychological Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Psychiatrists, and American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

Questions to Ask an OCD Therapist

Having a positive and productive relationship with your therapist is essential, so you should prepare questions to ask during your initial meeting. These will help you establish whether the OCD therapist you are meeting with matches your needs well:

  1. How many years of experience and training do you have in treating OCD?
  2. What types of therapy do you specialize in?
  3. What is your approach to treating OCD?
  4. Can you describe the goals of OCD therapy?
  5. How long have you been practicing?
  6. Do you have any specific experience working with patients with similar OCD symptoms? 
  7. What do you believe to be the root cause of OCD?
  8. How do you involve family members in the therapy process, if at all?
  9. What can a client expect during therapy sessions?
  10. How often do you meet a client, and for how long?

Ultimately, take the initial consultation as an opportunity to ask about any concerns you may have — the therapist will be more than happy to address your queries. 

Find an OCD Therapist Today

When searching for an OCD therapist, consider their qualifications, experience, and their approach to treatment. Ask questions during your initial meeting to ensure you feel comfortable with the therapist and their approach.

Use Grow Therapy’s search tool to find an OCD Therapist who is qualified and experienced. We can connect you with a therapist of choice — one who specializes in OCD, accepts your insurance, and is located in your area.

 

FAQs

  • Both psychologists and psychiatrists can provide OCD therapy. However, the two are different in scope of practice and training. Psychologists have either a PsyD or a Ph.D. and provide therapy and counseling services. Psychiatrists have an MD and can provide therapy as well as medication. Whether to see one over the other is a personal matter — don’t hesitate to reach out to a psychiatrist and a psychologist to see which is better suited for your needs.

  • A licensed professional counselor (LPC), a clinical social worker, or other qualified professionals trained and licensed to provide counseling services and therapy can help you. Typically, these professionals have a master's degree or higher and specialize in treating OCD.

  • With proper treatment, recovery is a possibility. Research shows that 50% of people with OCD experience marked symptom improvement after receiving cognitive behavior therapy and/or medications.

  • The duration of therapy depends on the severity of your condition. Typically, therapy takes about two months or approximately 8-20 sessions to achieve clinically significant outcomes. However, treatment may take longer for people with severe OCD symptoms.

  • You can get therapy even if you don't have insurance. There are many options to receive therapy services, such as free community agencies, private pay, and sliding scales. Make sure you check what options work with your provider.

About the author
isbell oliva garcia grow therapy Isbell Oliva-Garcia, LMHC

Isbell Oliva-Garcia is a licensed mental health counselor, bilingual in English and Spanish. Isbell specializes in women's issues during difficult times of transition and also works with front-line individuals struggling with PTSD or stressors created by the job.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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