Cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD is a highly effective treatment for OCD symptoms, but the therapy does not work for everyone all of the time. Let’s explore the factors that predict whether you’ll respond to cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD.
Motivation – Perhaps the biggest predictor of whether you will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD is your motivation to participate in therapy. Cognitive and behavioral therapy for OCD is not easy and requires you to expose yourself to the things you fear most. These treatments also often require that you complete regular homework on your own.
Relationship with Therapist – Another factor that determines whether you are likely to benefit from cognitive behavior therapy for OCD is your relationship with your therapist. Forming a constructive, friendly but professional relationship with your therapist predicts good results.
Insight – The more you are able to recognize that your fears are unfounded, exaggerated or irrational, the better you are likely to do in therapy. The reason for this is simple -- it is difficult to engage in the hard work that therapy for OCD requires if you don’t believe (at least a little bit) that your fears are unfounded.
Symptom Severity – If your symptoms are mild to moderate, you are likely to have a better response to cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD than those who symptoms are severe.
Co-morbid Illness – Severe depression and a difficult personality style can make it difficult to benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD; however, treatment can often be tailored so that problems besides OCD can also be tackled in therapy.
Marital Status – In general, if you are married or in a stable relationship you stand a greater chance of benefiting from cognitive behavioral therapy. This is likely because you are able to lean on your partner for support when the going gets tough.
Income Level – The greater your income, the more likely you are to benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD; however, it may not be a direct cause. Income level may simply reflect the severity of a person’s OCD symptoms. That is, those with severe symptoms may be unable to work and therefore have a lower income. On the other hand, those with more income may be able to afford more treatment sessions and have a better result.
Family Environment – Unsurprisingly, a stable family environment predicts a good response to cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD. Family members need to be supportive and help out with homework assignments if the person is to take full advantage of treatment.
Keeley, M.L., Storch, E.A., Merlo, L.J., and Geffken, G.R. “Clinical predictors of response to cognitive-behavioral therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder”. Clinical Psychology Review 2008 28: 118-130.
Keijsers, G.P., Hoogduin, C.A. and Schaap, C.P. “ Predictors of treatment outcome in the behavioral treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry 1994 165: 781-786.