OCD Treatment: What to Expect (and Not)

What to Expect When Starting Treatment for OCD

Photo of Blair Pallas, author of Starting Treating for OCD. Blair Pallas, LCSW


Starting OCD treatment for the first time can be scary. You might wonder “Do I have to lie on a couch and talk about myself for an hour?” or “What if my thoughts are so crazy that the therapist has never heard anything like this before?” or “Can I really improve?”

To feel confident beginning OCD treatment, below is a list of things to expect when you walk through our door. 

What to expect from treatment

  • Expect a structured hour for each session. The goal of your therapeutic work will not be to have you vent for an hour.
  • You and your therapist will build sessions based upon exploring the impact of OCD on your life. Together you will collaborate to identify behavioral changes to help you manage OCD in a new way.
  • Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) is the proven treatment for OCD. In the simplest of terms ERP is about learning to face your fears. You will learn to let go of reliance on your compulsions to relieve your anxiety. Therapy sessions will focus on designing and implementing ERP experiences that are appropriate for you and where you are in your treatment process.

What to expect from your therapist

  • The content of your thoughts will not be shocking to your therapist. All thoughts are normal. As human beings we are capable of thinking anything. Our brains can venture into even the most “taboo” of topics. In OCD treatment we do not identify the problem as the content of the thought. We focus on how your reaction to this thought is keeping you stuck and negatively effecting your life. Having a thought does not mean you want to or are going to act on the thought. Thoughts are not facts and therapy is here to help you learn that you do not need to run from them. 
  • Neither you, nor your therapist, can stop or control the thoughts that enter your mind. You will be making some adjustments to your definition of being “fixed”. What your therapist can help you to learn is to interact with these thoughts in a new way. This new way of interacting will allow you to stop being guided by fear and to choose to engage in living a life you value.

The idea of beginning therapy can feel daunting, but you will not be alone in the process. Your therapist is there to help you navigate this new experience and to help you succeed in reaching your goals. Contact us today.

Blair Pallas