Let’s just be real. Finding therapy takes time. Finding a GOOD therapist takes work. Finding a good therapist who understands OCD and can treat it effectively is HARD. We can’t fix all the reasons there are barriers to finding quality treatment, but we can help you get from A to B a bit more efficiently, by providing you with some insight from an anxiety & OCD therapist who knows how to best navigate this process.

So we sat down with Melissa Hunter, MA, LPC, to get her expert perspective on how to go about finding a qualified therapist who can treat OCD effectively.

Let’s dive right in with a loaded question, Melissa! Why is it so difficult to find the right OCD therapist?

MH: It’s difficult, in part, because there are not many trained professionals that treat OCD.  Many therapists will list it as something that they treat, but they may not be familiar with OCD or have any training in Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) therapy or CBT. It makes it necessary for people with OCD to go one step further when looking for a therapist, and research which OCD treatments and modalities a therapist is trained in.

What are currently the most effective treatments for OCD, and how can someone get an idea of which avenues are right for them?

MH: The most effective treatment for OCD is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) called Exposure Response Prevention (ERP). This is a scientifically-based intervention that has been studied exhaustively and has been shown to work to decrease OCD symptoms and improve quality of life. It is typically done by a licensed mental health professional in an individual therapy setting. Of course, if a client needs a higher level of care there are also intensive outpatient treatment options and residential programs available. 

What are a few of the initial things to look for in a therapist, for someone who thinks they may have OCD? 

MH: It is extremely important to work with someone who has been trained in ERP and who understands OCD. OCD can sometimes mimic other mental health disorders and it often gets misdiagnosed to the detriment of the client. So do your due diligence and make sure that your therapist is a specialist in the treatment of OCD. I can’t reinforce that point enough!

In exploring therapists and treatments, how can someone advocate for themself without dictating their own treatment?

MH: When a client is looking for a therapist it is helpful if they think of it as an interview.  You are interviewing potential therapists to see who gets the job. Ask questions. ‘How long have you treated OCD?’ ‘Which subtypes are you familiar with?’  ‘What type of treatment do you use?’ ‘How do you assess for OCD?’

Thank you for sharing some of your insight as a therapist with a lot of experience in this field. If someone is interested in reaching out to you, where do you practice, and how can people find you?

MH: I practice therapy in CO, MA, FL, and NJ, as well as the UK.  You can reach me through melissahuntertherapy.com.  I also recommend Ashley Annedstedt and her group practice beyondborderscbt.com as they serve over 11 states as well as Mexico, South America, and the UK. Melissa’s response

Looking for a safe space to discuss your thoughts with peers who understand?

To share your experience without guilt, shame or fear, browse our safe and confidential OCDPeers groups here.

We’d love to hear your story!

The OCD community needs brave voices who are willing to share their experience. If you’re interested in sharing your OCD story, contact us here.