Dual Approach to Therapy May Help Relieve OCD Symptoms

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People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can benefit from a type of therapy called exposure and response prevention, in which patients refrain from their compulsive habits while being exposed to the very things that make them feel uncomfortable. A 2019 study in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology finds that this treatment can work even better when combined with cognitive therapy, which involves changing people’s thought processes.

The study involved 127 adults with OCD who were randomly assigned to standard therapy with exposure and response prevention, or the same treatment in combination with cognitive therapy. Treatment involved weekly hour-long sessions with a therapist for four months.

Participants in both groups benefited from treatment, but patients who received cognitive therapy had even greater improvements in their symptoms than those who received exposure and response prevention therapy alone, and more of them benefited from combination treatment.

The authors noted that exposure and response prevention did not work quite as well in this study as in previous studies of OCD, in which participants had therapy more than once a week. The treatment was still effective, however.

If you are struggling with OCD, consider finding a therapist who is versed in both exposure and response prevention and cognitive therapy.