What Kind of Therapy Do I Need?

The below excerpt was originally voiced to Psychology Today in 2009, but is still very helpful today!  The question below was posed to Judith Beck, Ph.D., an authority on cognitive behavioral therapy.  It’s so concise and helpful that I’ll include the entire answer here:

What is one pearl of wisdom you would offer clients about therapy?

Dr. Beck said, “All psychotherapy is not the same! One particular form, cognitive therapy (also known as cognitive behavioral therapy) has several hundred research studies demonstrating its efficacy for the range of psychiatric disorders, psychological problems, and many medical conditions with psychological components No other psychotherapy has been validated by so much research. If I had a medical problem, such as trouble breathing, I would go to my doctor and ask for the treatment that research has shown to be the most effective. The same should hold true for emotional problems.”


It is an unfortunate problem for the field of mental health that getting research-based treatments widely available has been a challenge.  However, by being an informed consumer not averse to some research of your own, you can make the right choice for you. 

OCD Treatment That Works

“CBT, accompanied by medication, is the only treatment for OCD that is supported by scientific evidence.  At this time, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of treatments such as hypnosis, herbal or homeopathic remedies, psychoanalysis, relaxation therapy, eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) or dietary changes… there are a number of excellent tools for reducing anxiety that may be used to supplement CBT and medication, including yoga, exercise, and meditation.” — Relief from OCD, from the people at BeyondOCD

In my experience it is quite common for people looking for OCD treatment to seek therapy without discerning between different types of therapy.  Some of the less fortunate ones end up doing unhelpful therapy for a year or more before deciding they need to see more results.  When they start doing cognitive-behavioral therapy, they are often quite surprised at how different the approach and focus of each session are from the therapy they have done before.  As unfortunate as it is that some people do not learn about CBT until years after symptoms begin, the good news is that CBT can be effective regardless of whether someone has had OCD for two months or twenty years. In my experience, what’s more important is whether they are willing to do the necessary homework exercises. If they are, success often follows.  If you know someone who suffers from OCD and who has not tried cognitive-behavioral therapy, encourage them to learn about it.  There is no reason to continue suffering from OCD when effective treatment is out there!

OCD treatment text on a page.