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Once you have made the decision to begin treatment, finding an OCD therapist may feel like an overwhelming process. Being equipped with information about what to look for in an OCD therapist is crucial. Treatment outcomes are influenced by the therapist’s ability to be knowledgeable and deliver high-quality care along with a client’s willingness to take risks and face their fears. Exposure and Response (Ritual) Prevention (EX/RP) is an evidence-based treatment that has demonstrated efficacy and durability in reducing OCD symptom severity. EX/RP is a brief CBT-based treatment that gradually and systematically uses exposures to trigger obsessional distress while the individual simultaneously refrains from rituals or compulsive behaviors.  

It is important that your therapist is a masters-level therapist or close to becoming one (such as an intern finishing their coursework AND working under someone who specializes in OCD treatment). Therapists and doctors who treat OCD may have these titles and licenses:

  • M.D. or D.O. – Indicating they have a medical degree
  • Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D – Indicating they have a doctorate degree 
  • LPC, LMFT, LCSW – Indicating licensure in the mental health field
  • Intern or pre-licensed therapist – Indicating they are close to or have just finished their master’s program

No one of these is a better option than the other. What is more important is that those professionals with or without these titles specialize in OCD and have training that represents that, such as an EX/RP certification (Valentine, 2020).

EX/RP is a highly manualized treatment approach. It is recommended that therapists have some specialized training in this treatment approach. As you are looking for a qualified provider, ask if your therapist is EX/RP certified, in the process, or has plans of becoming certified in the future. The International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) provides these recommendations when searching for an OCD therapist: 

  • Therapist uses exposure and response prevention as a treatment technique. 
  • Therapist mentions EX/RP as a specific form of CBT that is used to treat OCD. 
  • Therapist feels confident, and has been effective, in treating OCD using EX/RP therapy.
  • It is encouraged that the therapist has had some formal training in EX/RP therapy.
  • Therapist is currently treating clients who have an anxiety diagnosis.
  • Therapist understands the role that medications have on treating OCD (for some people).  
  • Therapist understands the benefits of completing exposures in the community, and shows an openness to conducting these exposures together in therapy sessions (when appropriate). 

*These tips have been adapted from the International OCD Foundation.

Brittany Steiner  


Valentine, Keara. (2020). How To Find An OCD Therapist That Does ERP. NOCD. Retrieved from in a new tab)

International OCD Foundation. (2022). How to Find the Right Therapist. IOCDF. Retrieved from