What Is IOCDF? And, How Can It Help My OCD?
When you struggle with OCD, having a “normal” life can be hard. The non-stop obsessions and compulsions can make you feel like you are going insane. Perhaps, you cannot leave your house for fear of contracting a deadly virus or burning down your house because you forgot to turn off your oven. Maybe, the only way to deal with stress or even get through the day is to repeat phrases in your mind or continuously count or organize things.
Regardless of what your “thing” is, it can be really lonely to deal with, especially if you do not have the proper resources, tools, and treatment. The good news is you do not have to struggle alone. There are organizations, like the IOCDF, that can help you better understand your condition and seek the proper help for it.
The IOCDF store is an all-inclusive shop, offering expert OCD content, a therapy directory, merchandise (for fundraising purposes) volunteer and fundraising opportunities, conferences, training, resources for kids with OCD and their families, OCD support groups, and so much more.
With the right OCD help (i.e., lifestyle changes, therapy, medications, CBD, OCD books and apps, mindfulness meditation, journaling, healthy coping skills and strategies, hypnosis, and self-help tools, like Impulse Therapy, an online OCD treatment program, you can live your life on your own terms.
If you are wondering what IOCDF is and how it can help you battle and conquer your OCD symptoms, you have come to the right place. This article can help you better understand your condition and how non-profit organizations, like IOCDF, can help you live a happier and more productive life.
What is IOCDF?
Founded in 1986 by individuals with OCD, the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) is a donor-supported nonprofit organization. Since that time, IOCDF has become a universal membership-based organization that provides valuable resources, information, tools, support, and guidance to OCD sufferers, their loved ones and partners, mental health professionals (i.e., OCD therapists, psychiatrists, social workers, etc.), and researchers throughout the world. IOCDF is not only available in 25 US states and territories, but also offers partnerships with other OCD and non-profit mental health organizations in other countries.
Thus, the overall goal of IOCDF is to improve the outcomes for people with OCD by performing the following actions:
- Providing valuable resources, tools, guidance, information, and support to OCD sufferers and their loved ones, partners, and friends
- Educating the general public on OCD and related conditions (OCD awareness)
- Improving access to effective OCD treatments
- Educating mental health providers about evidence-based OCD treatments
- Providing a platform or OCD forum for collaboration and networking
- Encouraging and supporting important research into the causes of and treatments for OCD and related disorders
Where is IOCDF Located?
The IOCDF Headquarters is located at 18 Tremont St Ste 308, Boston, MA 02108. The phone number is (617) 973-5801.
What is the Purpose of IOCDF?
The purpose of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) is to provide OCD sufferers with the tools, resources, guidance, and support they need to address and effectively manage their OCD symptoms. The hope is that this organization can help these individuals and their loved ones, partners, and friends live happy, full, and productive lives.
Furthermore, IOCDF aims to improve access to effective OCD treatments, through research and training, foster an encouraging and supportive community for OCD sufferers and the professionals, who treat them, and fight unfair and unproductive mental health stigmas and labels throughout the world.
Does the IOCDF Help Other Conditions in Addition to OCD?
Yes, it does.
The IOCDF treats OCD and other related conditions, such as hoarding disorder (HD), body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), olfactory reference syndrome (ORS), misophonia (sound-related OCD symptoms), emetophobia (a fear of vomiting or situations that could trigger vomiting), and PANDAS (a pediatric OCD condition stemming from a strep infection).
Why Was the IOCDF Created?
In 1986, a group of OCD sufferers enrolled in the first OCD medication trials. Dr. Wayne Goodman was the main investigator of one of these OCD treatment studies. During his residency training, Dr. Goodman, a junior faculty psychiatrist (at the time) developed Yale University School of Medicine’s OCD treatment program. Dr. Goodman suggested that some of the OCD study participants share their OCD experiences with each other – i.e., their ability to access OCD treatments, and how they were coping with being socially isolated from other people with OCD.
None of the participants had met another OCD sufferer before enrolling in the trial. After realizing the importance of support and a “sense of belonging,” the group developed the Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation (OCF), offering its services to any OCD sufferer, who had been suffering in silence. To make a statement, the group contacted ABC’s 20/20 and asked the producers to do a segment on OCD.
In March of 1987, 20/20 ran the OCD segment, featuring the OCF founders. The founders, in turn, received over 20,000 inquiries after the 20/20 airing. Afterward, the IOCDF was tasked with determining what they could do to help OCD sufferers. At this point, the IOCDF began building its structures and seeking the guidance of psychotherapists and researchers.
Could IOCDF Help Me with My OCD Symptoms?
Yes, it could!
IOCDF’s ultimate goal is to increase access to effective OCD treatments, end unfair stigmas, and develop and support OCD communities. The IOCDF also provides resources, tools, and programs (throughout the year) for OCD sufferers, their families, friends, partners, and mental health providers. Overall, the IOCDF connects anyone who is being affected by OCD. The IOCDF provides treatment resources and support for these individuals.
The organization also promotes OCD awareness to the general public to ensure that everyone can access their free tools and resources. The IOCDF Resource Directory is an extensive library of OCD treatment and support that includes licensed therapists, support groups, specialty outpatient clinics, residential programs, intensive treatment programs, and even research treatment programs.
Can IOCDF Help Me Find an OCD Therapist That Will Work for Me?
Yes, it can.
If you are ready to get your OCD symptoms under control, the first step is to find a therapist, who specializes in OCD. Although, there are many different psychotherapists to choose from, finding one, who specializes in OCD and can effectively diagnose and treat the condition can be challenging. Some OCD experts state that it can take 14-17 years for some people to be diagnosed and treated for OCD.
Why is it so challenging to find a local therapist who specialized in OCD?
Well, there are a variety of reasons it could take a while to find the right therapist, such as:
Some OCD sufferers deliberately hide their symptoms out of embarrassment, shame, or fear of being stigmatized or labeled. As a result, these individuals elect to forgo seeking treatment for their obsessions and/or compulsions until they become out of control.
- Ignorance (A Lack of Knowledge)
Until recently, most people with OCD did not even know what it is, let alone recognize its symptoms. As a result, they likely did not know they should seek treatment for it. Many undiagnosed OCD sufferers probably did (and still do not) know there is a treatment for it.
- Poor Mental Health Training
The truth is people with OCD are often misdiagnosed, which can make getting the proper treatment difficult, time-consuming, and frustrating. Most of the time, this misdiagnosis is attributed to poor mental health training provided to psychotherapists and other mental health providers. As a result, these individuals are often forced to see numerous specialists over the years to be officially diagnosed with OCD.
- Unaffordable and Inaccessible OCD Therapists
Lastly, it can take a while to get treated for OCD when an individual is unable to find or afford a local therapist, who specializes in OCD, and is affordable.
How Can IOCDF Help Me Get the Right Treatment for My OCD Symptoms?
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), OCD treatment should always include exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). ERP therapy is considered the “go-to” treatment for OCD, primarily because studies have found it to be extremely effective for the condition.
Another “gold standard” treatment for OCD is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). ACT is usually combined with ERP therapy to treat OCD symptoms (obsessions and compulsions). The good news is all of the therapists listed in the IOCDF Resource Directory are trained to treat people with OCD.
Listed below are ways that IOCDF can help you find an OCD therapist that works for you:
- The first step is to inquire if the therapist accepts your health insurance and if your health insurance covers OCD therapy.
- If your health insurance is accepted and covers the OCD treatment, the next step is to make sure that the therapy office is accessible. In other words, can you get to it fairly easily?
- You will also need to make sure that you feel comfortable with the therapist by scheduling a consultation and meeting with him or her. What is the vibe like? In other words, do you feel like you can work with the therapist? Create a list of questions in advance to take with you to the consultation.
Remember, you are interviewing the therapist for a “job” so ask questions about his or her approach to treating OCD, success record, fees or costs, timeline or number of sessions, mental health philosophy, experience, education, licensure, etc.
- Keep in mind that some therapists offer in-person and telehealth or online therapy sessions (i.e., Zoom, Skype, etc.), while others only offer in-person or telehealth sessions, so ask about that during your consultation. Determine which form of OCD therapy would work best for you.
- If a therapist acts “guarded” with you, deliberately withholds pertinent information from you, and/or becomes irritated, frustrated, or angry at your requests for information, you should probably keep looking.
- On the other hand, if a therapist is respectful, open, friendly, objective, and knowledgeable, you may have found the right OCD therapist for you!
Note: Understand that the only way therapy will be successful is if you trust your therapist, so it is important to take your time and accurately assess every potential therapist before settling on one.
Are There Questions That the IOCDF Thinks I Should Ask an OCD Therapist?
Yes, there are.
Listed below are some good questions to ask an OCD therapist:
- What techniques do you use to treat OCD? If the therapist is vague or does not mention CBT or ERP therapy – keep searching.
- Do you use ERP therapy to treat OCD? If the therapist says that he or she does use ERP therapy to treat OCD but does not provide you with details on his or her approach – keep searching.
- Can you tell me about your OCD training? Your therapist must have OCD training and licensure because there are different requirements and licenses for different types of psychotherapy.
- What percentage of your clients are being treated for anxiety disorders, like OCD?
- An ideal answer? Over 25%.
- Have you successfully reduced or eliminated OCD symptoms? If so, how many times?
- The therapist should confidently say, “Yes, many times!”
- How do you feel about using medications to treat OCD? If the therapist appears to have a negative view of treating OCD with medications, that could be a bad sign. Although medications are usually the last resort, they are sometimes needed to help manage OCD symptoms.
How Can I Tell If a Therapist is Credible and Has Been Trained to Treat OCD?
If the therapist has one or more of the following criteria, he or she is likely credible and has been trained to treat OCD:
- Membership in the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF)
- Membership in the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT)
- Attendance at OCD treatment workshops (i.e., IOCDF’s Behavior Therapy Training Institute)
- Attendance at the Annual OCD Conference
Has IOCDF or Its Staff Been Recognized for Its Services?
Yes, it has!
In 2008, Patti Perkins, Executive Director of the IOCDF, received the “Lifetime Achievement Award.” In 2010, students, trainees, and junior investigators began receiving “Poster Travel Awards” to encourage them to attend IOCDF
In 2011, Dr. Edna Foa received the “Inaugural Career Achievement Award.” And, in 2012, IOCDF employees began receiving the “Hero Award.” In 2014, IOCDF began recognizing and awarding people in the media, who have made an impact on reducing or eliminating mental health stigmas. Finally, in 2019, the IOCDF received the “Youth Hero Award.”
How Can I Support IOCDF?
You can support the IOCDF in a variety of ways, such as:
- Purchase items from the IOCDF Shop
Each purchase (i.e., stickers, hoodies, shirts, pens, magnets, keychains, buttons, bandanas, and/or wristbands) helps the IOCDF accomplish its goal of helping OCD sufferers lead happy and productive lives.
Truthfully, it does not matter if you live close to the national headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, or somewhere else, there are plenty of ways you can help the IOCDF further its mission. You can also volunteer as a room monitor, navigation guide, or registration assistant, in exchange for free admittance to the IOCDF Conference.
- Become a Grassroots Advocate
You can join the #1Million4OCD Walk, speak at a local affiliate event, and/or blog about your experiences! Regardless of what you decide to do, becoming a grassroots advocate can help you become a part of a community of people, who want to support OCD awareness and educate the public about OCD treatments.
In Your Area
- Contact your local IOCDF branch and ask how you can help (i.e., helping with a local fundraiser, mailings, etc.). You can also organize and host a local fundraiser (i.e., walks, bike rides, etc.).
If you live near downtown Boston, Massachusetts, you can volunteer at the IOCDF National Headquarters, performing the following functions:
- Assisting with mailings
- Updating IOCDF’s website content library
- Assembling information packets
- Performing data entry tasks
If you would like to know about volunteer opportunities, email the IOCDF office at: [email protected].
Volunteer Opportunities That You Can Do from Anywhere
- Fundraising for the IOCDF
- Inquiring About Corporate Support for IOCDF Programs
- Starting an OCD Support Group
- Placing IOCDF-Endorsed OCD Awareness Press Releases in Local Papers
- Sending IOCDF-Developed OCD Awareness Letters to National and State Legislators
- Organizing and Hosting OCD Lectures at Local Public Schools and/or Colleges
- Participating in an OCD Research Studies
- Writing Articles for the IOCDF’s Quarterly Newsletter
- Developing and Hosting an Event During OCD Awareness Week
- Translating IOCDF’s Educational Materials into Other Languages
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- International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). (n.d.). Behavior therapy training institute (BTTI). Retrieved from https://iocdf.org/professionals/training-institute/btti/
- International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). (n.d.). Why walk for #1Million4OCD — One mother’s perspective. Retrieved from https://iocdf.org/blog/2016/05/12/1million4ocd-kelly-blog/
- International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). (n.d.). Products. Retrieved from https://shop.iocdf.org/collections/all
- International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). (n.d.). Conferences. Retrieved from https://iocdf.org/programs/conferences/
- International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). (n.d.). Home page. Retrieved from https://iocdf.org/
- Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapists. (n.d.). Home page. Retrieved from https://www.abct.org/
- Mattina, G. F., Slyepchenko, A., & Steiner, M. (2020). Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. Handbook of Clinical Neurology, 175, 369–386. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-444-64123-6.00025-4