Updated: Apr 22
We've been lucky enough to be part of a growing community on social media who are highlighting the importance of safety and professional ethics culminating in a recent BBC article* and documentary. The importance of adhering to a professional code starts with adequate qualifications, training and credentials.
This is a much wider issue but, following feedback from clients regarding a practice in Somerset, UK, we urge everyone to check the credentials of any practitioner or practice offering OCD treatment. OCD is a serious, chronic mental health condition which requires specialist and qualified cognitive behavioural psychotherapy, particularly in the case of intensive treatment. In the UK, CBT with an emphasis on ERP is the evidence-based treatment for OCD according to NICE, which governs all medicine & healthcare here. This means that your therapist should be...
...qualified & offering you CBT with ERP as the main focus of therapy. Not coaching, hypnotherapy, counselling, psychodynamic or psychoanalytical therapy. NICE guidelines are clear that CBT with ERP is the only evidence-based treatment for OCD. For example, if your therapist is analysing your childhood as the root cause of your OCD, then you are in the wrong place, because:
The weight of scientific research concludes that the root cause of OCD is likely to be biological and not environmental (an event, an experience, etc.)
CBT focuses on the solution and not the problem
CBT and 3rd generation approaches effective for OCD are firmly grounded in the present
As studies have confirmed, analysing the past or the 'why' is not recommended for OCD and can make OCD worse
...qualified by means of an advanced diploma, degree or masters in CBT. ERP is the ‘B’ in CBT therefore ERP training would be included in a recognised CBT qualification. Please note: a psychology degree is not a therapeutic qualification and does not entitle a person to practice as a psychotherapist
...qualified via a reputable academic institution, ideally a university or equivalent
...accredited with either the BABCP, BACP or NCS in the UK (unless they are in the process of doing so and would then be termed a ‘trainee’). Being a member isn’t adequate. Another person in the practice being accredited isn’t adequate
...able to demonstrate (with evidence) years of specialist OCD experience post (after) their CBT qualification, ideally 5 to 10 years or otherwise termed a 'trainee'
...able to provide, if requested, details of their qualifications (& year obtained), regulatory accrediting body, minimum hours of annual professional development, supervision and insurance. An accredited therapist will have had this checked by their accrediting body
...refraining from implying expertise outside their field, e.g., neuroscience and the brain. The causes of OCD are still not clearly defined as can be supported by the work of eminent neuroscientists in this field, e.g., the OCD team at University of Cambridge**, McLean Hospital in Boston***, UCLA Medical School****, Harvard Medical School***** and Columbia University******, among others.
In summary, if you are considering OCD treatment for yourself or a loved one, these are the basic requirements. Especially if you are going to pay thousands for treatment. Don’t be shy about asking for details and proof of their qualifications or alternatively their accreditation. Your therapist should welcome this. After all your, or your loved one's, mental health is at stake.