Mclean Hospital

Boston-Bound: Three Reasons to Attend the International OCD Foundation Conference This Summer

By Ethan S. Smith, International OCD Foundation Spokesperson

May 8, 2015

It’s about that time again. The International OCD Foundation Conference is upon us in less than a month, and this year it’s in the OCD Institute’s hometown of Boston, Massachusetts. This can only mean one thing—lots of clam chowder! Research has shown that consuming delicious clam chowder has absolutely no effect on OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), however attending the conference does. If you’re on the fence about going, here are my top three reasons to get on a plane, train, bus or car, and join us this summer.

Community

At the IOCDF 2014 Conference
Diane Davey, RN, MBA, Ethan Smith, and Jason Elias, PhD, at the 2014 IOCDF Conference

The OCD community is a massive family comprised of sufferers, family members, friends, therapists and doctors. You’ll even find a few OCDI therapy dogs that enjoy being pet, chasing toys and generally helping out. Most importantly, the conference facilitates a place of belonging and understanding; a safe place for anyone and everyone that’s touched by OCD and related disorders to come to learn and socialize. It’s an unsung rule that the OCD conference is a “stigma free zone.” It’s an amazing experience where life-long friends are made and loneliness is not an option. You never know which OCDI alumni you may run into as either an attendee or a speaker, as there are several former residents speaking this year, not to mention yours truly!

Access

The conference gathers the greatest minds from around the world in psychiatry and psychology specializing in OCD and related disorders. There are clinicians with multiple degrees, and sufferers that successfully manage their OCD, all with a wealth of knowledge ready to share with you. The OCDI alone has almost their entire staff presenting this year! To be blunt, we all know therapy is expensive, and this conference is an incredible opportunity to access an abundance of resources in one place. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken to whose journey to mental health began at the conference, where they met therapists and friends who laid the foundation for recovery. My own journey started there, and I promise you from the breakout sessions and panels to just stopping someone in the hall and talking to them, you will walk away with priceless knowledge and potential action steps that can lead to life-long change.

Action

So often in our quest for wellness we read, we sit, we think, we ponder and we discuss. Taking action, initially, can be an elusive and scary step. This step is necessary, however, to reach successful OCD management. The conference as a whole creates a phenomenal opportunity to TAKE ACTION, on your own, toward beating OCD once and for all. Whether you’ve just been diagnosed or you’re in maintenance, you can never take enough action in an effort to live a beautiful life without OCD. The International OCD Foundation Conference is the ultimate action step. With countless activities, panels, and discussions, the conference offers one of a kind content no matter where you are in your process. And the best part is that you’re not alone. You’re surrounded by more than a thousand other people all trying to do the exact same thing—to take action in an effort to squelch OCD and have a little fun in the process.

Community, access and action are such crucial steps to getting better, and there’s nothing like having them all be accessible in one beautiful location!

And the secret reason to go? You’ll discover that no matter where you are in your journey, just by attending and interacting with others, you will help them with your story in ways that you don’t even know about. We are all unique; our paths original, but joined by the common thread of OCD. We are all students and we are all teachers. Even if you feel completely helpless and can’t fathom how you could possibly help someone else, EVERYONE has the ability to help others. Just by being there, by sharing, by relating, by helping to create that community and taking action, you will touch people in a way that could alter their own path for the better. Dr. Michael Jenike once told me, “The best thing you can do for you OCD is to help others,” and there’s no better place to give that a try than the International OCD Foundation Conference. See you in Boston!