Exposure and Response Therapy Among Individuals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

     Because Exposure and Response therapy (ERP) exposes an individual to their uncomfortable thoughts, images, situations, and/or feelings, it's easy to understand why some individuals may be reluctant to try it. So who should try ERP therapy? What are the success rates? Is it more effective than other therapies?

    According to Keara Valentine, author of "Does ERP Therapy Work for Everyone?", ERP is a gold standard for treating individuals that have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Research shows that a combination of ERP and medication are the most beneficial treatments for individuals with OCD: seventy percent of people benefit from one or both. Overall, ERP alone has a success rate of 65% to 80% in children, adolescents, and adults with OCD. Most people undergoing treatment see a decrease in their symptoms within eight to sixteen weeks, with some experiencing no symptoms at all after treatment. However, because of the nature of ERP and being exposed to discomfort, it's normal that OCD symptoms increase directly after starting treatment. This means that it's important for people who are considering ERP to stick with it if they decide to try it out. 

    What about other therapies though? Unlike regular talk therapy, ERP focuses on individuals submitting to their compulsions. Traditional talk therapy helps people gain insight into their problems whereas ERP helps people challenge their OCD and confront their anxiety. Talk therapy could even be potentially detrimental to individuals with OCD as patients may dwell on their distressing thoughts. ERP offers a way for patients to overcome their fears rather than dwell on them. Overall, ERP seems to be a highly successful treatment, if not the best option, for individuals with OCD.

Valentine, K. (2023, June 12). Does ERP therapy work for everyone?. NOCD. https://www.treatmyocd.com/blog/does-erp-therapy-work-for-everyone



  1. Hi Meredith, I haven't heard of ERP before, but it's definitely interesting. I hadn't even thought about how regular talk therapy could harm people with OCD even more than helping them. Your visual does make me curious in what a fear ladder is, and how exactly that helps, but the whole concept of ERP definitely sounds like it has a target audience in who it is effective for.


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