Study Reinforces Value of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to Treat OCD

Posted by Phil Cardenas on Dec 19, 2013

One of the most powerful weapons in the fight against Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT, for short. The benefits of CBT were shown in a recent report in the September 2013 issue of JAMA Psychiatry, the professional journal of the American Medical Association.

In the report, a form of CBT called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) was found to be nearly four times as effective as antipsychotic medications in reducing the symptoms of OCD.

The study showed that 80% of OCD sufferers reported a reduction in symptoms with 43% saying that their symptoms fell to a minimal level after ERP treatment. This compared to a reported 23% reduction in patients receiving drug therapy and 15% of patients receiving a placebo.

Exposure and Response Prevention therapy is used to retrain the brain to react differently to the behavioral triggers of OCD. By exposing patients to triggering behaviors and working with them to change their responses, ERP eventually “rewires” the brain to unlearn compulsive rituals. As more study results become public, the successes of ERP and other psychotherapeutic treatment such as Metacognitive Therapy offer encouraging news for OCD sufferers for whom drug therapy is ineffective and for sufferers who seek drug-free ways to alleviate their OCD symptoms and behaviors.

Not all therapists treat OCD, so it is important to seek those who specialize in the disorder, especially since treatments such as ERP continue to evolve at a rapid pace. Beyond OCD is a non-profit organization devoted to understanding, diagnosing, and treating OCD, not just for sufferers, but for their loved ones and associates, as well. 

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from OCD, our website 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 website 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 It’s there to help you get the information you need to go beyond OCD.


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