When Exposures Go Right: Effective Exposure-Based Treatment for Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder

Abstract

Cognitive behavioral therapy with exposure and response prevention (CBT-E/RP) is the first-line treatment for obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). Several CBT-E/RP treatment manuals exist, yet clinicians still struggle to implement this evidence-based form of therapy. This article aims to help clinicians implement exposure-based treatment for OCD by providing practical treatment-enhancing strategies. In particular, literature and treatment recommendations related to effective hierarchy formation, strategic exposure design, and optimal exposure implementation is reviewed. Clinical case examples are provided throughout the paper to illustrate important principles, concepts, and recommendations. This paper aims to enhance the delivery of CBT-E/RP and address common questions and concerns that both new and advanced clinicians encounter when learning and applying this form of psychotherapy. Improving the integrity of CBT-E/RP delivery can improve therapeutic outcomes, patient compliance, and successful treatment completion.

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Correspondence to Cary Jordan.

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Author Cary Jordan, Adam Reid, Jessica Simmons and Michael Sulkowski authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.

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Jordan, C., Reid, A.M., Guzick, A.G. et al. When Exposures Go Right: Effective Exposure-Based Treatment for Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder. J Contemp Psychother 47, 31–39 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10879-016-9339-2

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Keywords

  • Exposure-based therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Evidence-based treatment
  • OCD
  • Clinical recommendations