If your college or university offers Cognitive Behavior Therapy through the student health center or counseling service, that’s a plus. But if they limit the number of visits you can have, that can pose a challenge. The usual treatment time for CBT is approximately 12 to 16 weekly sessions. Some people with severe OCD require more frequent visits. You may also require follow-up, or “booster,” sessions if your symptoms return or change – that’s normal.
If your school limits the number of in-person CBT therapy sessions you can attend, be sure to make the most of every session you do have. First, be completely candid with your therapist about your fears and intrusive thoughts – no matter how bad they may seem. An experienced therapist won’t be surprised or think less of you because of what you’re thinking. In fact, it’s very likely that your therapist has already treated other people who had the kinds of obsessions you’re having – whether they’re violent, morbid or sexual. Your therapist also knows that OCD is causing your obsessions; it’s not a character flaw or a weakness on your part. And you certainly are not a bad person for having OCD.
Second, be sure to do all the exposure exercises your therapist prescribes between sessions. Your ERP homework exercises will parallel your therapy sessions and will gradually increase in difficulty, giving you more challenging exposures as you progress. It’s hard work, but you’ll get better faster if you do your homework and keep your therapist up to date on your successes and failures.
If you are unable to learn to manage your OCD within the number of sessions provided by your school, you’ll need to work with a trained cognitive behavior therapist off campus.