Mclean Hospital

OCD Treatment at the Intersection of Innovation and Compassion

McLean Is a Leader in Care for Individuals With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

We are here to help. Call 877.203.3232.

Call 877.203.3232.

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2.2 million adults live with obsessive compulsive disorder, and while the median age of onset is 19 years old, 25% develop the illness by age 14.

A person’s level of OCD can be anywhere from mild to severe, but if severe and left untreated, it can destroy a person’s capacity to function at work, at school, or even to lead a comfortable existence at home.

McLean is a leader in the treatment of OCD and related disorders, with care options for children and adults. Our OCD Institute (OCDI), once a first-of-its-kind program, now, over 20 years later, has become a model for the development of other OCD treatment programs across the country.

We’re ready to talk. Call us now to discuss treatment options at 877.203.3232.

OCD Treatment at a Glance

  • Diagnostic assessment which facilitate a customized treatment plan, incorporating the best therapies and strategies for addressing the patient’s symptoms, meeting challenges, and setting goals
  • Evidence-based treatment models, family-focused therapy, and cutting-edge care, combining individual and group therapies, a variety of behavioral therapies, and medication that help the patient manage their symptoms and transition back to their daily lives
  • Individualized behavioral therapy plans identify obsessions, compulsions, and avoidance behaviors, provide a menu of exposures for program staff to implement, and recommend special instructions for the unique needs of each patient
  • Group therapy focuses on helping the patient become more open and willing to participate in treatment: topics include decreasing behavioral symptoms; increasing normalized family, work, and social functioning; and improving access to education and support
  • Skill-building in areas where people with OCD typically have deficits, including becoming more fully engaged in treatment by learning mindfulness, scheduling, social skills, and goal setting
  • Close alliance and education of the family system, which significantly helps the patient transition back home successfully once treatment is over and also helps to reduce the likelihood of relapse
  • Integration of clinical assessment and research, allowing our programs to best serve our patients and continually improve our treatment approaches while we search for new and innovative ways to treat this disorder

A Patient’s Perspective

Robin was one of the first patients at McLean’s OCD Institute and she credits the program with setting her life back on track.

Robin’s Journey


Gold Standard in OCD Care

McLean primarily uses two methods to treat OCD. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy allows individuals to gradually face their obsessional cues in order to build confidence with triggers and ultimately inhibit future compulsive responses. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) promotes a willingness to accept and address, rather than avoid, difficult thoughts and emotions and may reduce barriers to other forms of treatment. These treatment approaches are proven to help individuals struggling with OCD, anxiety, and related disorders.

For many years, ERP has been considered the best option for helping individuals who are struggling with OCD.

The exposure in ERP refers to exposing yourself to the thoughts, images, objects, and situations that make you anxious and/or start your obsessions. The response prevention part of ERP refers to making a choice not to do a compulsive behavior once the anxiety or obsessions have been “triggered.” All of this is done under the guidance of a therapist at the beginning—though individuals eventually learn to do their own ERP exercises to help manage their disorder.

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McLean is at the forefront of care for children and adults who struggle with OCD

When we perform these exposures, it can feel awful and scary to the patient, but the actual event is not so catastrophic. That discrepancy is called a ‘violation of expectancy,’ which helps create inhibitory learning—it allows the mind to separate the perceived threat from the thought or action they have associated it with.

McLean’s OCD programs combine ERP with other treatment approaches, creating care plans and strategies to meet the needs of each individual.

Care Across the Life Span

OCD doesn’t just affect adults. In the United States, 1-2% of children and teens live with OCD. There aren’t many OCD programs available that are focused on youth. McLean’s OCDI Jr. specializes in the unique needs of young people who struggle with OCD and aims to teach lifelong skills to manage symptoms.

From the day it opened, OCDI Jr. has been operating at full capacity, providing specialized treatment to kids and teens from as far away as Mexico, Zurich, and Montreal.

Read about one teen’s journey to reclaim her freedom from OCD.

Integrating Clinical Care and Research

With the goal of helping patients get better, our clincian-researchers work to improve treatment models by collecting and analyzing patient data. Our researchers and clinicians work hand-in-hand to answer important questions about OCD care.

We collect data from our patients during their treatment using a secure online system specifically designed for medical research. This enables our researchers to quickly deliver high volume, precise data to give us a clear picture of OCD treatment. We utilize objective measures during the course of treatment to make adjustments to a patient’s care to help improve outcomes.

This robust ingtegration of research and clinical care has led to many successes include recent work modifying traditional ERP therapy approaches.

There’s a fear structure in your brain, a network of learning, that has learned how to be afraid of certain stimuli. What we’re trying to do in exposure therapy at McLean is create opportunities for new learning that will then stop some of those circuits.

One approach has been to vary the contexts of exposures—such as performing exposures in different settings—to reinforce the concept that a fear is unfounded. Another approach is to expose a patient to multiple fear triggers, rather than just one.

The Significance of Family Involvement

Getting family members involved in treatment is important to OCD care.

With OCD, more than with most other mental health disorders, the families are often very involved in the symptoms. Family members are often asked by the patient to do things a certain way, and when they comply, they become accommodators of the symptoms.

We work with family member and significant others to help support patients as they return to their home environments. Educating and supporting the family sets up the patient for continued success as they transition to aftercare.

If you or a loved one are struggling with OCD, McLean is here to help. Contact us at 877.203.3232 to learn more about treatment options.

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