Obsessive compulsive disorder - OCD treatment and therapy from NOCD

What should I do if I’m unsure about OCD therapy?

7 min read
Julissa Gonzalez
By Julissa Gonzalez

Even when you’re struggling with a debilitating condition like OCD, it’s common to feel unsure about getting therapy. You may ask yourself, Will therapy really help me? Would therapy work for my specific type of OCD? Is therapy worth it? If you’re feeling this way, you’re certainly not alone—many people delay starting treatment, even when they feel like there’s a possibility it may help them.

We’ve outlined three frequently heard concerns you may have about starting therapy, and how you should approach them. 

Concern: I don’t feel like my OCD is severe enough to seek help.

When it comes to matters concerning mental health, we sometimes have an all-or-nothing approach: If our situations don’t seem extreme enough, then we may feel like help isn’t needed. If you’ve been told your OCD symptoms are “mild,” have compared yourself to others who are struggling with seemingly more severe symptoms, or feel the condition is manageable enough at the moment, you may end up just trying to figure out how to live with it on your own, rather than seeking help. 

The truth is that if OCD is impacting you to the point where it’s interfering with your daily life in any way—such as taking up significant time out of your day, affecting your relationships, or forcing you to avoid things you probably wouldn’t otherwise—you can benefit from OCD treatment. However, there are other options that you can take that may be helpful for you if getting treatment isn’t a fit for you right now.

One potential source of help is literature specifically designed to help you manage OCD. Many experts and researchers within the OCD community have written books that help people with their OCD treatment and recovery journeys. These brilliant clinicians have dedicated their careers to researching the condition, devising life-changing clinical interventions for it, and treating people for decades. You can check out our list of 5 must-read books for people struggling with OCD to find the resources that are best for you.

Concern: I’m worried a therapist may judge me due to the nature of my unwanted thoughts.

Many people who are unsure if they want to seek OCD treatment are afraid of being judged by their therapist. It’s common for them to feel anxious, embarrassed, or ashamed of their thoughts and compulsions. However, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about: despite misconceptions, OCD is a prevalent condition, and millions of people share similar thoughts and experiences.

Still, they may worry that intrusive thoughts say something about their character, and question who they are as a person. Understandably, this can be extremely distressing and isolating. If you have thoughts that are disturbing or taboo in nature, we know that it can be scary to tell anyone what you’re going through. 

If this is a concern you have, it’s important to recognize that a therapist who truly understands OCD and is specialty-trained in treating OCD will not judge you for your thoughts or symptoms. Because they deeply comprehend OCD and its many themes, they know that having obsessive thoughts is not indicative of your character, and it has nothing to do with who you are as a person. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that an OCD specialist will even be surprised by the content of your obsessions – they’ve likely heard it before!

What an OCD therapist will see is that you have OCD, a chronic but treatable mental health disorder. With effective treatment, you can regain control over your life. That’s why it’s critical to discuss your experience with a licensed therapist that specializes in treating OCD with exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. 

ERP is the gold standard treatment for OCD. Regardless of the OCD subtype, or the nature of the intrusive thoughts—whether violent, taboo, sexual, or otherwise upsetting and unwanted—all themes of OCD are treatable with ERP therapy. ERP involves specifically targeting the source of a person’s obsessions by directly exposing them to it. In most cases, people find that ERP helps their anxiety subside to the point where they no longer experience intense fears related to their thoughts on a regular basis. 

That’s why a therapist who is specialty-trained in ERP will know how to treat your OCD theme without judgment, whether you yourself have seen your subtype many times before, or have never heard of anyone else struggling with your specific subtype or intrusive thoughts. But every individual will have a personalized treatment plan when they begin ERP that will be customized to meet their needs. 

ERP will teach you to lean into fear, rather than avoid it. By taking it step-by-step, and working side-by-side with a specialist trained in OCD and ERP, you can gain the lifelong skills you need to battle OCD. 

To find a licensed therapist that has specialty training in ERP, you can search the NOCD Therapist Directoryall of our therapists are trained to treat OCD with ERP and have a deep understanding of all OCD themes—or check out the IOCDF’s directory, as some of the therapists listed in there specialize in ERP, too. (Beware, though, that many therapists claim false expertise in ERP. That’s why it’s important to interview your therapist before starting treatment with them.) 

Concern: I’m not sure if ERP is worth the investment.

Maybe you’re at a point where you have heard about ERP and understand that it’s a treatment specifically for OCD, but you’re not sure if it’s really worth the investment. You may have also heard that historically, ERP was often expensive, or perhaps are unsure of how long you’d have to be getting treatment to actually see results—will you be in treatment forever? 

The goal of OCD treatment isn’t to lean on a therapist for life, but to learn how to “become your own therapist”: the point where you’re so skilled at doing ERP that you can manage OCD on your own. After seeing a significant reduction in OCD severity, a therapist who is trained in ERP should help you sustain results while slowly reducing the frequency at which they see you. 

For many, treatment is relatively quick, and its benefits can take effect soon. The length of treatment can vary based on the severity of symptoms, but on average, people receiving ERP virtually will require around 2 months of treatment to achieve clinically significant results—though some people with more severe OCD can still achieve significant results with a longer timeline. Regardless, for everyone, the goal is the same: to be autonomous and fully functional without needing a therapist every week. 

That’s why an investment in ERP is an investment in yourself and in your future. In fact, ERP is the most important investment on your OCD recovery journey, and it’s critical to make it your first investment. By investing in ERP, you’ll be able to start freeing yourself from OCD’s grip. It’s important to note that OCD may get worse before it gets better, because ERP can be hard—you are, after all, purposefully triggering yourself and facing your darkest fears. But living with untreated OCD is much harder, and doing ERP alongside a trained OCD specialist ultimately delivers life-changing results, so it’s worth the investment upfront.

The financial costs can also be minimized, thanks to the accessibility of more affordable treatment options. Now, more people than ever before are able to work with a therapist who is in-network with their insurance plan to alleviate the financial burden. At NOCD Therapy, over 1 in 3 Americans are covered by insurance, and our treatment is significantly more affordable than what the majority of people pay for in-person ERP, with payment plan flexibility. 

The reason is that we know that ERP historically has been difficult to access for many people not only due to limited availability, but also high costs. We built NOCD to make OCD treatment accessible to everyone who needs it. Currently, we accept major insurance plans including UnitedHealthcare, Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, and many others.

This access to effective, convenient, and affordable treatment has led our licensed therapists to help thousands of people with OCD, and you can even read real reviews from NOCD members about their experiences with our therapists. We believe in putting transparency back into the healthcare system and share all unfiltered and uncensored NOCD Therapy reviews on one page. Our hope is to put you in charge of your own health, giving you the information to determine if working with a NOCD Therapist is right for you—all while allowing you to hear from others on why ERP was worth the investment for them. 

Learn more about starting therapy

If you feel you’re ready to learn more about getting effective treatment, NOCD can help. At NOCD, our therapists are passionate about the treatment of this debilitating disorder and are trained by world-renowned experts. All NOCD therapists are licensed and specialty-trained to treat OCD using ERP therapy through live face-to-face video sessions, and they deeply understand all OCD subtypes. 

To learn more about working with a licensed, specialty-trained NOCD therapist, book a free 15-minute call with our team today.

NOCD Therapists specialize in treating OCD

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Taylor Newendorp

Taylor Newendorp

Network Clinical Training Director

I started as a therapist over 14 years ago, working in different mental health environments. Many people with OCD that weren't being treated for it crossed my path and weren't getting better. I decided that I wanted to help people with OCD, so I became an OCD therapist, and eventually, a clinical supervisor. I treated people using Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and saw people get better day in and day out. I continue to use ERP because nothing is more effective in treating OCD.

Gary Vandalfsen

Gary Vandalfsen

Licensed Therapist, Psychologist

I’ve been practicing as a licensed therapist for over twenty five years. My main area of focus is OCD with specialized training in Exposure and Response Prevention therapy. I use ERP to treat people with all types of OCD themes, including aggressive, taboo, and a range of other unique types.

Madina Alam

Madina Alam

Director of Therapist Engagement

When I started treating OCD, I quickly realized how much this type of work means to me because I had to learn how to be okay with discomfort and uncertainty myself. I’ve been practicing as a licensed therapist since 2016. My graduate work is in mental health counseling, and I use Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy because it’s the gold standard of OCD treatment.

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