DIAGNOSIS: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
TREATMENT: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

2015 EST Status: Treatment pending re-evaluation Very strong: High-quality evidence that treatment improves symptoms and functional outcomes at post-treatment and follow-up; little risk of harm; requires reasonable amount of resources; effective in non-research settings

Strong: Moderate- to high-quality evidence that treatment improves symptoms OR functional outcomes; not a high risk of harm; reasonable use of resources

Weak: Low or very low-quality evidence that treatment produces clinically meaningful effects on symptoms or functional outcomes; Gains from the treatment may not warrant resources involved

Insufficient Evidence: No meta-analytic study could be identified

Insufficient Evidence: Existing meta-analyses are not of sufficient quality

Treatment pending re-evaluation

1998 EST Status: Strong Research Support Strong: Support from two well-designed studies conducted by independent investigators.

Modest: Support from one well-designed study or several adequately designed studies.

Controversial: Conflicting results, or claims regarding mechanisms are unsupported.

Strength of Research Support

Empirical Review Status
2015 Criteria
(Tolin et al. Recommendation)
Very Strong
Insufficient Evidence
Treatment pending re-evaluation
1998 Criteria
(Chambless et al. EST)

Find a Therapist specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive DisorderList your practice

Brief Summary

  • Basic premise: The underlying premise assumes that patients with OCD experience distorted, dysfunctional thoughts about themselves, the world, and the future, which produce and maintain their anxiety. OCD has been hypothesized to relate to an inflated sense of personal responsibility related to events that may cause harm to either the self or others. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to help the person identify, challenge, and modify these dysfunctional ideas and adopt more functional behaviors.
  • Essence of therapy: CBT for OCD focuses on teaching techniques to help patients to explore, understand, and implement alternative ways of thinking and behaving. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a type of exposure therapy that is used to help patients explore alternative behaviors in response to unwanted thoughts.
  • Length: Approx. 12 sessions

Treatment Resources

Editors:John Otis, PhD

Note: The resources provided below are intended to supplement not replace foundational training in mental health treatment and evidence-based practice

Treatment Manuals / Outlines

Treatment Manuals
Books Available for Purchase Through External Sites

Training Materials and Workshops

Measures, Handouts and Worksheets


Clinician Rated

Self-Report Questionnaires

Parent Measures

Self-help Books


Important Note: The books listed above are based on empirically-supported in-person treatments. They have not necessarily been evaluated empirically either by themselves or in conjunction with in-person treatment. We list them as a resource for clinicians who assign them as an adjunct to conducting in-person treatment.

Clinical Trials

Meta-analyses and Systematic Reviews

Other Treatment Resources