As OCD Understanding Grows, Choosing the Right Therapist is Important

Posted by Phil Cardenas on Nov 26, 2013

Behavioral Science is a rapidly-evolving field, and nowhere are the changes coming faster than in the understanding of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD), what they are and are not, and how to treat them.

The American Psychiatric Association published the fifth edition of its Diagnostics and Statistics Manual (DSM-5) earlier in 2013, culminating a 14-year process of revision. The manual in­cludes a new chapter about Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders and the increasing evidence that some disorders are related to one another and are distinct from other anxiety disorders. That distinction helps clinicians better identify and treat individuals suffering from various disorders.

Disorders included in this new chapter include obsessive-compulsive disorder, body dysmorphic disorder and tricho­tillomania (hair-pulling disorder), plus two new disorders: hoarding disorder and excoriation (skin-picking) disorder.

This group of disorders shares features in common: obsessive preoccupation and repetitive behaviors. The authors of DSM-5 see enough similarities to group them together in the same diagnostic classification but enough important differences between them to exist as distinct disorders.


The new diagnoses were included in DSM-5 after a comprehensive review of the scientific literature; full discussion by Work Group members; review by the DSM-5 Task Force, Scientific Review Committee, and Clinical and Public Health Committee; and evaluation by the American Psychiatric Associa­tion’s Board of Trustees.

The consensus among professionals is that it’s important to find a therapist who is up-to-date on the latest research and understanding. 

While there is still no laboratory test to identify OCD, mental health professionals use diagnostic tools to measure the severity of obsessions and compulsions. If OCD is diagnosed, patients are then referred to a therapist trained in techniques shown to effectively relieve its symptoms. The most widely recommended therapy is called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) in which sufferers discuss triggering behaviors and are shown ways to minimize them. CBT is being used successfully and is recommended by respected organizations such as the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Mayo Clinic, and the Harvard Medical School. Exposure and Response Therapy, or ERT, is also evolving as another hopeful treatment for OCD.

Many mental health professionals lack the proper training to diagnose and treat OCD. Only a qualified cognitive behavior therapist can provide effective, appropriate therapy. Your relationship with your therapist is also very important. Finding someone who is right for you is critical to your success in overcoming OCD.  

Beyond OCD is an organization devoted to better understanding of OCD, its diagnosis, and its treatment. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from OCD, our web site has lots of information on the disorder, how to recognize it, and resources for additional information and treatment. Identifying the symptoms is the first step. Our web site has an OCD Self-Screening Test that can help give you insights into your thoughts and behaviors, but only a qualified mental health professional can accurately test for and diagnose OCD.

Beyond OCD is committed to offering OCD sufferers and their loved ones the latest information on the disorder as well as carefully chosen sources for treatment. To learn more about OCD and its treatment, visit our web site at It’s there to help you get the information you need to go beyond OCD.


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