Obsessive compulsive disorder - OCD treatment and therapy from NOCD

4 Reasons to Find a Specialized Therapist (and Why It Matters)

By Stacy Quick, LPC

Sep 29, 20235 minute read

While it may seem like there are specialists for everything these days, this should not deter from the fact that treatment focused on your care and particular symptoms is vital for OCD recovery. In the same way that you wouldn’t see your family doctor for ongoing prenatal care, treatment of mental health conditions like OCD is most effective when conducted by a specialist. 

To truly understand what makes this specialized care so crucial, there are four key reasons to consider:

1. Mental healthcare is not “one size fits all.” 

Just as you would see a medical specialist for ailments that require in-depth treatment, you should do the same for mental health conditions. However, many individuals are unaware that specialized services and resources exist and, as a result, are unable to access them. They may believe that it is enough to see a general practitioner, not realizing that specialized treatment is even available.

Raising awareness about mental health conditions and specialized services can not only positively impact individuals with OCD, but can also help healthcare professionals recognize the importance of specific evidence-based treatments. The more professionals understand OCD, the more likely they are to seek out proper training or to refer patients to a provider who is well-qualified in OCD treatment.

2. Professionals who don’t specialize in OCD may not fully understand it.

Although OCD advocates are starting to change the narrative, a significant lack of understanding about the condition persists, even among healthcare professionals. OCD is complex, and it takes specialized training and expertise to diagnose and treat it. Tragically, many professionals will say that they treat OCD when they are not specialists.

Without the necessary education and training, healthcare professionals can create barriers to getting effective treatment and misconceptions about OCD’s symptoms and severity. Sadly, the view that OCD is a personality quirk or a ‘positive’ characteristic is still common. This lack of awareness can lead to inadequate or even harmful care.

3. Specialized therapists know what works for OCD: ERP.

Professionals without expertise in OCD may recommend traditional therapies like general CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), even though the gold standard of OCD treatment is exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. While ERP is a form of CBT, it is a specialized form of it—a distinction that makes a huge difference.

ERP therapy is shown to be effective in up to 80% of patients who suffer from OCD, providing significant results in as little as 12-20 sessions. As part of ERP therapy, you will track your obsessions and compulsions and make a list of how distressing each thought is. You’ll work with your therapist to slowly put yourself into situations that bring on your obsessions. This process is very carefully planned to ensure it’s effective. You’ll gradually build toward your goal to avoid moving too quickly and getting overwhelmed.

The idea behind ERP therapy is that exposure to these feelings is the most effective way to treat OCD. When you continually reach for compulsions, it only strengthens your need to engage with them. On the other hand, when you prevent yourself from engaging in your compulsions, you teach yourself a new way to respond and will very likely experience a noticeable reduction in your anxiety.

4. It’s the best way to make your investment worthwhile.

Financial burdens can be a significant barrier to seeking specialized care, especially for individuals who are financially struggling. Healthcare can be expensive and this cost seems to be growing by the day. Mental healthcare is also rapidly increasing in cost, largely due to a shortage of providers.

Many individuals rely on health insurance to help cover the cost of care but sadly, insurance companies are not always aware of OCD’s long-term impacts on an individual’s health and well-being, or the benefits of providing coverage for specialized treatment. 

In the face of financial barriers, carefully considering care options is of the utmost importance. Mental health, as dire as it is, may be placed on the back burner but, alarmingly, the cost of not being treated can take a toll on an individual.

The importance of specialized OCD treatment

Regrettably, many individuals who suffer from OCD and do not receive the appropriate care will see an increase and worsening of their symptoms. Untreated OCD can also lead to an increased risk of developing co-occurring mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, or even substance abuse issues. Without proper treatment, a person’s daily functioning can become significantly impaired and their quality of life may decrease considerably.

But while the effects of untreated OCD can be severe, there is hope. Decades of clinical research have shown that OCD is highly treatable and with the help of ERP therapy conducted by a qualified therapist, it’s possible to break the OCD cycle and regain your life.

At NOCD, all therapists specialize in OCD and receive ERP-specific training from some of the top OCD experts and researchers in the world. They’ll use their expertise to design a treatment plan for the OCD themes you’re experiencing and provide non-judgmental support every step of the way. To prevent cost from being a barrier to accessing treatment, at NOCD, we offer affordable options and partner with many insurance plans. To learn more about NOCD Therapy, speak to someone on our care team by scheduling a free 15-minute call with us.

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