Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition characterized by a pattern of unwanted intrusive thoughts known as obsessions. These obsessions lead people to indulge in repetitive behaviours or mental acts known as compulsions. These obsessions and compulsions are likely to interfere with daily activities, causing significant disturbance. Thus, early detection is crucial in the treatment of OCD. In this article, we’ll explore a few therapies used in the treatment of OCD.

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most effective treatments for OCD. CBT is based on the assumption that our thoughts impact our feelings and actions. Thus, CBT focuses on helping people deal with negative or unhelpful patterns of thinking and changing them into more positive ones. CBT helps with OCD in the following ways:

  •  CBT helps people with OCD identify their irrational, intrusive thoughts and beliefs related to their obsessions. These thoughts often contribute to anxiety and the urge to engage in compulsive behaviours.
  • Once people can identify their irrational thoughts, they learn to challenge and reframe their distorted thinking patterns. They work with a therapist to examine the evidence for and against their obsessive thoughts, leading to more balanced and realistic perspectives.
  • Through this process of identifying and replacing obsessive thoughts with realistic perspectives, people with OCD can reduce the intensity of obsessions and experience decreased anxiety levels

  • Exposure And Response Prevention (ERP)

ERP is a subset of CBT, and it is considered to be the gold standard treatment (most effective) for OCD.  Research shows that almost 75% of people who opt for ERP treatment for OCD have found it effective in treating the disorder. Another study suggests that almost 60% of people who undergo ERP treatment experience reduced OCD symptoms over time.

In ERP, a therapist exposes people with OCD to situations, objects, or thoughts that trigger their obsessive thoughts and anxiety (exposure). Then the therapist simultaneously helps them resist their compulsion (response prevention). 

ERP is a gradual process, as exposure typically works in a hierarchy, where people are first exposed to a situation that provokes the least anxiety, and as they start getting comfortable, they are slowly exposed to more anxiety-provoking situations. The end goal of ERP is to help people with OCD increase their tolerance of anxiety-provoking thoughts without indulging in compulsions. This helps reduce the symptoms of OCD. ERP also empowers individuals with relaxation techniques so that they can remain calm while dealing with anxiety-provoking situations. A combination of CBT with ERP usually works best for OCD.

  • Acceptance And Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT is a unique psychotherapy approach based on the assumption that people are not defined by their thoughts. Thus, ACT focuses on helping people become more aware of their distressing thoughts, instead of trying to directly change them. The goal is to help people accept distressing thoughts and still make choices that help them live their lives meaningfully.

ACT helps with OCD by teaching individuals to accept their obsessive thoughts and feelings without trying to control or eliminate them. An ACT therapist also helps people focus on their life goals and values while shifting their focus away from compulsive behaviours. ACT is a relatively new, yet effective, treatment for OCD. ACT can help with OCD in the following ways:

  • It increases self-awareness
  • It helps reduce shame and anxiety that arise from obsessions
  • Helps build a more positive relationship with oneself.

  • Other Treatment Approaches for OCD

  • Psychodynamic Approach- which focuses on how past experiences are contributing to OCD symptoms in the present,
  • Medications might be an option in severe cases of OCD.


There are many effective approaches to treating OCD< Ultimately, the choice of therapy approach depends on various factors such as the severity of symptoms, individual preferences, and response to treatment, Having said that, CBT with  ERP and ACT are a few of the most effective treatments for OCD.


  1. ACT for OCD: How It Works, Examples, & Effectiveness. (n.d.). Choosing Therapy. Retrieved April 3, 2024, from https://www.choosingtherapy.com/act-for-ocd/
  2. Law, C., & Boisseau, C. L. (2019). Exposure and Response Prevention in the Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Current Perspectives. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 12, 1167–1174. https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S211117
  3. Manjula, M., & Sudhir, P. M. (2019). New-wave behavioral therapies in obsessive-compulsive disorder: Moving toward integrated behavioral therapies. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 61(Suppl 1), S104–S113. https://doi.org/10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_531_18
  4. What Are the Best, Most Effective OCD Therapies? (n.d.). GoodRx. Retrieved April 3, 2024, from https://www.goodrx.com/conditions/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/best-therapy-for-ocd
Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin