Don’t Waste Your Time: Find a Licensed Therapist That Specializes in Treating OCD

By Stephen SmithReviewed by Patrick McGrath, PhD4 min read

I’ve never experienced anything more crushing than a day filled with OCD intrusive thoughts. It’s a feeling that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. You wake up, look in the mirror, pray that you will have mental clarity, analyze your thoughts, feel doubt about how you feel about the thoughts, and then experience a state of extreme anxiety. 

From that point until the end of the day, you spend your time spinning through your thoughts in an attempt to hopefully make the torture stop. Even on days you get a full night’s rest (hoping to reach mental clarity), you still analyze your thoughts to see how you feel about them and run through this cycle. It’s a nightmare that doesn’t end. 

Given the severity of OCD and the despair people with the condition experience, it’s not uncommon for people and their families to go to any length to find help. This gives many therapists and peer support specialists who are licensed a chance to make a transformative impact on people – but it also sadly causes some who are not licensed to prey on people in need of help. That’s why it’s critical to recognize if you’re working with a licensed therapist who has specialty training to treat OCD or a licensed peer support specialist who offers support between therapy sessions.

Here are three types of people to avoid when seeking help:  

#1: The provider who claims OCD can be cured.

The providers who you entrust with your treatment should not only have a firm understanding of Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy, but they should also recognize the chronic nature of OCD. It sounds straightforward, but it’s unfortunately common to see people who are unlicensed, unqualified, or improperly trained solicit services about “curing” OCD. 

Though OCD is highly treatable and can be managed effectively with proper treatment, there is no data to suggest that OCD can be cured, and anybody who markets a miracle cure should be viewed skeptically. 

#2: The person who claims lived experience as the only reason for their expertise, without having a license as either a mental health professional or as a peer support specialist

It’s also important to know that when you’re looking for clinically effective treatment for OCD, you need to work with a therapist who has the proper training, experience, and licensure. Lived experience alone is not enough to make someone qualified to treat you. I myself am a person with OCD, and I work with many licensed therapists who deeply understand people with the condition, but I’m not a licensed mental health professional myself nor am I a licensed peer support specialist who can provide listening and support services between sessions. As such, I would not be someone who is professionally qualified to see you clinically.

The reason you should check your provider’s licensure is that there are things that licensed therapists and peer support specialists learn that people with only lived experience might not. For example, a licensed therapist might learn about comorbidities that you’re experiencing from getting to know you, which might slightly alter your treatment.

Of course, if someone has OCD and also has a license to offer therapy, then they would be someone appropriate to work with, if you found them to be the right fit. For instance, a therapist like Stacy Quick in the NOCD network has publicly shared her OCD story and is licensed to provide clinical services for OCD and other mental health issues.

#3: The person who suggests OCD treatment is finite.

While you might be in a program or might see a therapist for only a set amount of time, treatment for OCD isn’t finite. It’s not about focusing on a “full recovery,” but instead, the goal of therapy for OCD is to learn how to be your own therapist so that YOU can eventually self-manage, since OCD is chronic. That’s one of the reasons why we developed some of the NOCD platform’s self-help tool functionality, to help you better self-manage during the times when you don’t need your therapist as much. 

When you work with a therapist with speciality training in treating OCD, they understand that it’s up to you to apply the tools gained from therapy into your daily life. Meanwhile, a therapist who is suggesting that treatment is finite or who tries to make you believe you can make a full recovery may be the type of provider who claims false expertise in treating the condition

If you are looking to start OCD treatment or receive direction on where to get help, don’t hesitate to book a 15-minute call with our care team. Many of us have OCD, received effective treatment from licensed therapists ourselves, and are actively self-managing today. We can help you connect to a licensed therapist in our network or to other helpful resources if you’re in need of a different avenue. 

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Stephen Smith
WRITTEN BYStephen Smith
Patrick McGrath, PhD
Reviewed byPatrick McGrath, PhD