Q&A with an OCD Expert
Updated: Sep 6
For the next few weeks, I'll be sharing one question and response from my interview with Jon Hershfield, the author of the Mindfulness Workbook for OCD and director of the OCD and Anxiety Center, Sheppard Pratt. This interview was audio-recorded and then transcribed. Because this is now a text, some paraphrasing was done. Q&A will be posted every Wednesday.
Interview: October 4, 2019
Transcribed: August 2, 2020
How do you get people who have severe OCD to put in the work when they are not seeing results and still engaging in compulsions?
We don't get people to do anything. People choose to do things because they are good ideas, and that's what it comes down to. My job as a clinician treating OCD is to present a rationale for doing this crazy thing called ERP. It makes a lot of sense to do compulsions if you think about it, but if you actually understand how OCD works, it makes a lot of more sense to do ERP and to challenge your OCD and to maybe do the opposite of what your body is telling you to do. I think the key here is actually getting someone to understand the rationale well enough so that they want to do the exposure. As long as they are doing the exposure because their therapist is forcing them to, they feel pressured to, or they are hoping that if they just kind of wiggle their way through it, they will get it over and the OCD will just go away, they tend not to be treatment successes. The people that I see that are successful understand why they are doing ERP. Even when it’s hard, they are viewing their triggers as challenges that are opportunities, because it makes sense to them why they should do ERP.