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How to Find an OCD Therapist?

by edinburghtherapyservice
10 minutes read

OCD therapy

Finding an OCD specialist can feel confusing with so many options available. Many therapists list themselves as being able to work with everyone, so searching the ‘OCD’ section of a directory might lead you to counsellors without the right training.

It’s crucial to believe that your therapist gets what OCD is and can support you. This trust can help you face tougher challenges, knowing it’ll be good for you in the long run. We’ve made a simple guide with important things to know when searching for an OCD therapist, especially one who uses cognitive-behavioural therapy with a focus on exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy.

What is the best treatment for OCD?

The preferred treatment for OCD is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) with exposure and response prevention (ERP), as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines

Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of CBT with ERP for OCD, making it a well-established, evidence-based treatment for OCD. The therapy involves exposing individuals to anxiety-provoking situations or thoughts (exposure) and then preventing the accompanying compulsive behaviour (response prevention). This process helps break the cycle of obsessive thoughts and compulsions.

In addition to ERP, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are another highly effective treatment option for OCD. The decision to take such medication is a personal one, and it can enhance the effectiveness of ERP. SSRIs operate by increasing serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter in the brain linked to mood and anxiety regulation, making them particularly relevant for OCD. While medication can assist in alleviating OCD symptoms, it’s important to note that they don’t replace the need for therapy.

What training and qualifications should an OCD therapist have?

A proficient OCD specialist is thoroughly qualified with formal training in CBT. Verify that your therapist’s educational institution is officially recognized by relevant UK boards. You can confirm this by consulting directories such as the Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA), the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), and the British Psychological Association (BPS) accredited course list. 

Ensure that the primary therapeutic approach of the therapist is CBT. Some therapists, like those trained in integrative counselling, may have a diverse mix of approaches but might not dedicate sufficient time to CBT. Ideally, seek a therapist whose main qualification lies in CBT to ensure a focused and specialised expertise in this particular therapeutic method. Feel free to inquire about your therapist’s training institution to ensure transparency in their qualifications.

What questions to ask a potential therapist?

Before embarking on a therapeutic journey, it’s essential to ensure that the potential OCD therapist aligns with your needs. Asking the right questions can help determine if they are the right fit for you. A therapist who withholds information, or reacts negatively to your inquiries may not be the ideal choice. On the other hand, a therapist who values the significance of this decision, and exhibits openness, friendliness, and knowledge, could be a valuable find.


Have you gained experience in OCD, and specifically, have you worked with someone who has the same type of OCD as mine?

Begin by asking if they have experience treating people with OCD, and ensure the answer is affirmative. If you are aware of your specific OCD subtype, inquire whether they have worked with people with similar concerns.


How much of your practice currently involves OCD?

Assess the therapist’s dedication to OCD therapy by asking about the percentage of their practice dedicated to this specific area. A favourable response, indicating over 25%, suggests a specialization in working with OCD, making them a potentially suitable choice for your therapeutic journey.


What techniques do you use for OCD treatment?

Ask about the therapeutic techniques employed for OCD therapy. Be cautious if the therapist is vague or neglects to mention cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (ERP). Specifically, inquire about ERP if CBT is mentioned. Keep in mind that modalities like acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can also enhance OCD treatment when used alongside ERP.

How can you know if your therapist is a good match for you?

Research indicates that a significant predictor of treatment success lies in cultivating a strong relationship with your therapist. For this reason, it’s crucial to gauge early on if you feel accepted, understood, and comfortable in therapy.

If an immediate connection isn’t established, that’s perfectly normal; these connections can take time to develop. Give it three or four sessions and trust your instincts.

Further reading

Do you offer OCD therapy near me?

Edinburgh Therapy Service offers both in-person OCD counselling in Edinburgh (United Kingdom), and online therapy accessible worldwide. You can find our exact location here. We specialise in therapy for OCD, offering CBT with ERP as the main treatment option. 

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The Edinburgh Therapy Service is a psychotherapy and counseling practice based in Edinburgh, Scotland (United Kingdom). We offer therapy both in-person in Edinburgh and online, available in English and Spanish.

Contact info

Contact us for more information or to book your first appointment: [email protected]