DIAGNOSIS: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
TREATMENT: Exposure and Response Prevention for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

2015 EST Status: StrongResearch Support (SEE REPORT)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)

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Brief Summary

  • Basic premise: As individuals confront their fears and discontinue their escape response, they will eventually reduce their anxiety.
  • Essence of therapy: Individuals with OCD repeatedly confront the thoughts, images, objects, and situations that make them anxious and/or start their obsessions in a systematic fashion, without performing compulsive behaviors that typically serve to reduce anxiety. Through this process, the individual learns that there is nothing to fear and the obsessions no longer cause distress.
  • Length: approximately 12 sessions

Treatment Resources

Editors:Brian Marx, PhD; Alexandra Greenfield, MS

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

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.

Smartphone Apps

Clinical Trials

Meta-analyses and Systematic Reviews