Should I Join A Support Group?
If your therapist conducts Cognitive Behavior Therapy in a group setting, he or she may suggest you join the treatment group, which can be a very effective form of CBT. But joining a treatment group is not the same thing as joining a support group.
Many people who work with a cognitive behavior therapist are successful in learning to manage their OCD without joining a support group. Other people who work with a cognitive behavior therapist do benefit from participating in support groups. They find them a valuable source of information about OCD as well as a place where they can get much-needed encouragement and emotional support. Some groups either include or focus specifically on family members and friends of people with OCD.
It’s important to keep in mind that a support group is not a substitute for individual or group Cognitive Behavior Therapy. However, a good support group does recognize and acknowledge CBT as the treatment of choice for OCD (sometimes in combination with medication).
Many people find that the best support groups are either conducted by a cognitive behavior therapist or have a CBT-trained therapist overseeing the session to keep it on track. Support groups tend to be ineffective when they are simply a social gathering, focus solely on the negatives of OCD, are completely unstructured or dominated by one or a few individuals, or do not endorse CBT. At this point in time, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of “alternative” therapies such as hypnosis, herbal or homeopathic remedies, psychoanalysis, relaxation therapy, eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) or dietary changes. It’s important to note, however, that meditation, yoga and exercise can complement formal treatment for OCD. Many people find these tools to be extremely effective in helping reduce anxiety and facilitating the treatment process.
- To find a support group in the Chicagoland area, go to the More Resources section of this web site.
- To find a support group outside the Chicagoland area, go to the International OCD Foundation web site (click "Find Help"), where there are listings for other parts of the U.S.
- If you live in an area where there are no OCD support groups, consider participating in an online group.