Obsessive compulsive disorder - OCD treatment and therapy from NOCD

How frequently should I do ERP with a therapist?

By Peter Davis

May 06, 20224 minute read

Reviewed byDr. Jamie Feusner, MD

A gold standard treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is exposure and response prevention (ERP), a specialized therapy that has consistently demonstrated excellent outcomes in the treatment of OCD. ERP works by having people purposely face situations that provoke their obsessions, then helps them resist doing compulsions in response to the resulting anxiety. 

With OCD, a person’s compulsions only temporarily relieve discomfort and actually makes their anxiety worse in the long run. When people learn how to accept the distress caused by their obsessions, they can habituate–or experience a progressive decline in their distress–instead of attempting to neutralize that discomfort with compulsions. 

That’s why ERP takes practice: the more you are exposed to obsessions and resist compulsions, the more you can habituate and feel less fearful.

As patients habituate to the distress brought on by their obsessions and reduce their reliance on compulsions, they spend less time and energy avoiding distress. That is the ultimate goal of ERP therapy: to free people from the cycle of obsessions and compulsions so they can live better. 

How frequently is treatment needed? Here’s how it can be as effective as possible

Our mission at NOCD is to put an end to the suffering caused by OCD around the globe. We have developed the world’s largest network of OCD specialists, all of whom are specialty-trained in treating OCD with ERP therapy, and our team works side by side with OCD experts and researchers who designed some of the world’s top OCD treatment programs. 

In order to pursue our mission, we rigorously research our members’ treatment outcomes to continuously improve the services we offer the OCD community.

What we have found is that the best treatment outcomes occur for most therapy members when they meet with their therapist more frequently at the start of treatment. Specifically, when members meet with their therapist for 60-minute sessions twice each week for the first three weeks, we see the most significant reduction in OCD symptoms. Other research studies have also found that more frequent sessions are the most effective way of reducing symptoms. This effect is above and beyond the total number of sessions; in other words, for example, 12 sessions over 9 weeks is more powerful than 12 sessions over 12 weeks.

That’s one of the reasons why we strongly encourage NOCD Therapy members to see their therapist twice each week for 60-minute sessions, so they can recover from OCD as quickly and effectively as possible. People with OCD spend an average of 14-17 years suffering from it before they even receive a diagnosis (and then can find the proper treatment), so we know it’s important for them to get better as quickly as possible, rather than losing more precious time to OCD. 

For many, treatment is relatively quick, and its benefits can take immediate effect. The length of treatment can vary based on the severity of symptoms, but on average, people receiving ERP virtually will require around 2-3 months of treatment to achieve clinically significant results—though some people with more severe OCD can still achieve significant results with a longer timeline.

Getting better with ERP, tailored to your needs

The goal of ERP is to teach you skills that will help you rely less on your therapist over time. By being more involved in treatment when you start, you’ll be better equipped to “be your own therapist” and manage OCD on your own sooner. With virtual ERP, the process is even more powerful: therapists can work with you directly in the environment that triggers your obsessions, allowing you to more effectively habituate to your fears and anxieties.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to recovering from OCD with ERP therapy, and OCD specialists work with members at the pace most appropriate for them. But while individual treatment plans may vary, we have learned from in-depth research that when NOCD Therapy members are able to work with their therapist more frequently at the start of treatment, they often experience the most significant reduction in OCD symptoms. We always strive to provide the most effective treatment options possible, and tailor them to the needs of everyone in the OCD community.

If you think you or someone you know may be struggling with OCD, NOCD can help. Our licensed therapists deeply understand OCD and are specialty-trained in treating OCD with ERP. We provide evidence-backed, rigorously researched therapy, and tailor treatment plans to each member’s individual needs. You can book a free 15-minute call with our team to get matched with one and get started with OCD treatment.

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