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What is Outpatient Treatment for OCD?

What is Outpatient Treatment for OCD?

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What is Outpatient OCD Treatment?

OCD outpatient treatment is a broad term that encompasses a variety of approaches. It refers to therapy services delivered in mental health treatment clinics, doctor’s offices, or hospitals. Outpatient therapy for OCD does not require an overnight stay, even in the case of an intensive outpatient program for OCD. Patients who undergo outpatient therapy instead of residential or inpatient care return home each night.1

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) experience recurrent, unwelcome thoughts, ideas, or feelings (obsessions). They feel compelled to perform something repeatedly to get rid of the thoughts (compulsions). A person’s everyday tasks and social interactions can be seriously impacted by repetitive habits like hand washing/cleaning, checking on things, and mental acts like (counting) or other activities.2

Some symptoms of OCD include the following:

  • Obsessions Symptoms3
    • Fear of getting sick after touching things that other people have touched
    • Questions about whether you properly locked the door or turned off the stove
    • When things aren’t in order or facing the right way, it causes intense stress
    • Thoughts of ramming your automobile into a crowd
    • Unpleasant sexual imagery or ideas about misbehaving in public or shouting obscenities
    • Avoiding circumstances that can set off obsessions, like shaking hands
  • Compulsion Symptoms
    • Scrubbing your hands until they are raw
    • Repeatedly ensuring that the doors are locked
    • Repeatedly ensuring that the stove is off
    • Using specific patterns to count
    • Repeating a word, phrase, or prayer out loud
    • Facing all of your canned items in the same direction

About 2.5 million adults in the United States, or 1.2% of the population, have OCD. This affects roughly 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children.4

Various outpatient programs can help treat OCD, including:

  • Traditional Outpatient Treatment: Without requiring an overnight stay, OCD outpatient treatment in Tennessee are therapies or tests that can be performed in a hospital or clinical setting. Most treatments and testing can be completed in a few hours. Additionally, patients may see a therapist for individual sessions as often as recommended, generally one or two times a week for 45-50 minutes.5
  • Intensive Outpatient Program for OCD (IOP): IOP programs allow patients to go about their daily lives while receiving intensive treatment.6 Several days per week, participants must attend group or individual therapy or treatment as well as recreational activities as part of IOP for OCD.
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): A PHP is a highly structured IOP for OCD. They provide active treatment, including psychotherapy, group counseling services, and skill-building lessons, for several hours a day. After treatment, individuals can return home or to a sober living community.
  • Support Groups: Tennessee support groups offer services to help people stay committed to recovery. Belonging to a support group fosters camaraderie among others on the same path, making recovery feel less lonely. Members of support groups can meet once a week under the supervision of licensed therapists.

Insurance may be able to help cover the cost of therapy. Find out if your insurance provider can help with the costs by filling in our confidential insurance verification form below.

Outpatient OCD Treatment Process & Goals

Outpatient therapy for OCD varies with each individual. Some will require a few hours a week, while others may need an intensive outpatient program or IOP for OCD. Outpatient therapy aims to lessen psychiatric symptoms, boost independence, and foster self-reliance so that you can lead a full and fruitful life. Outpatient care is beneficial for the majority of OCD patients who are slightly to moderately ill and likely to adhere to therapy.7

Most outpatient mental health programs will begin with an intake assessment. It’s critical to have an open dialogue to be directed toward the correct course of treatment. Mental health professionals use screenings and other procedures to discover potential mental and behavioral disorders before they become severe and challenging to treat. Patients will learn how to maintain their mental health and cope with challenges.

Psychotherapy, such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) alone or with medication, is one of the best OCD outpatient treatment options. In addition, the strongest evidence for using Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), a type of CBT, and/or a class of medications known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SRIs, are the most efficient treatments. As a result, ERP and medication are regarded as the “first-line” treatments for OCD when used in tandem.

The symptoms of OCD may not always be controlled by psychotherapy and medication. In circumstances where counseling and medicine are ineffective, other treatments for OCD may be offered, such as:

  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): When more conventional treatment options have failed to control OCD in people aged 22 to 68, the FDA approved TMS. TMS is a noninvasive treatment for OCD symptoms that stimulates brain nerve cells with magnetic fields. An electromagnetic coil is applied to your scalp near your forehead, and your brain’s nerve cells are stimulated by a magnetic pulse delivered by the electromagnet.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): During ACT, you’ll study many techniques for determining your life values and apply these techniques in your daily routine. The goal of ACT for OCD is to assist you in reaching a point where you can openly experience ideas, feelings, or body sensations without being overly disturbed.8
  • Programs for intensive treatment: People with OCD who struggle to function due to the severity of their symptoms may benefit from comprehensive treatment programs centered around ERP therapy concepts. These programs usually run for several weeks and can be inpatient or outpatient.
  • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS): The FDA has approved DBS for persons 18 and older with OCD who don’t respond to conventional treatment. DBS entails implanting electrodes in specific brain regions. Electrical impulses may help control abnormal impulses.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Most people who use EMDR do so to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It seeks to support you in processing painful experiences in a secure setting. It can also assist in treating OCD, according to research, so your symptoms will less influence your daily life.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR): PMR can be combined with a deep breathing technique to find concealed tension throughout the body.9
  • Teletherapy: There are many reasons why those needing assistance don’t seek out therapists. Various logistical issues, such as severe compulsions that make going out in public challenging, create barriers between therapists and those needing help.

By providing a more convenient and frequently more economical option to receive the treatment you need for your symptoms, OCD teletherapy helps to break down some of these barriers.

Benefits of Outpatient Treatment for OCD

For those who have a strong support structure at home and can maintain high levels of independence, OCD outpatient treatment has many benefits, including:

  • It allows patients to keep a strong connection with their support network.
  • It enables patients to continue to manage their daily obligations.
  • It allows individuals to incorporate new coping techniques into their daily lives.
  • It assists patients in making the transition from inpatient to outpatient care.
  • OCD outpatient treatment is more affordable than inpatient therapy.

When is Outpatient Treatment Right for You?

For those with a solid support system and high-functioning independence, outpatient treatment is suitable. In addition, those who do not require round-the-clock care are excellent candidates for outpatient therapy. Moreover, outpatient therapy can be helpful if you have previously participated in inpatient programs.10 However, if you need a medical detox in conjunction with OCD, you’ll most likely require a higher level of care that includes 24-hour supervision.

Success Rates & Outlook of Outpatient OCD Treatment

There is no such thing as a quick fix for curing OCD. Everybody will experience it differently. As a result, the sort of OCD outpatient treatment you need, the skills you develop, and the amount of time you’ll need to dedicate will depend on your OCD type and the severity of your symptoms.

Individuals typically believe that receiving treatment would immediately make them feel better.

Although it rarely happens, you usually feel worse before you feel better. As a result, feeling worse at first often indicates that therapy is working.

Fortunately, the prognosis for most OCD patients is favorable. You can benefit from psychotherapy, medication, or both to help control obsessions and compulsions and enjoy life.

Below are a few success outcomes and statistics on outpatient therapy for OCD:

  • Overall, 50–60% of patients who complete Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) treatment show clinically substantially reduced OCD symptoms. Additionally, it has been discovered that these gains are enduring.11
  • With response rates of 50% to 70%, CBT, especially CBT as part of an intensive outpatient program for OCD, is quite beneficial.12
  • In a study on CBT following Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for people with severe OCD, CBT efficiently managed and treated severe OCD symptoms.13
  • In a different trial of CBT for OCD, it was discovered that even virtual (teletherapy) CBT sessions carried out over ten weeks improved depression symptoms and quality of life while reducing total OCD symptoms.14
  • In a study contrasting CBT with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), it was found that both significantly reduced OCD symptoms after the study and at the six-month follow-up.15
  • According to studies examining the efficacy of deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for treating OCD, roughly 45% of patients reported fewer OCD symptoms one month after treatment.16
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was found to be more effective than Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) in the treatment of OCD, with clinically meaningful changes in OCD severity happening more frequently in the ACT condition than in PMR.17
  • Using medication alone for OCD results in 40% to 60% effectiveness. Combining medication with ERP can also be a successful therapeutic strategy for some.18


  1. “What is Outpatient Mental Health Treatment?” Pacific Health Systems, 2022, https://pacifichealthsystems.com/blog/what-is-outpatient-mental-health-treatment/
  2. “What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?” American Psychiatric Association, www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/what-is-obsessive-compulsive-disorder. Accessed 3 Mar. 2023.
  3. “Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic, 11 Mar. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20354432.
  4. “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd. Accessed 3 Mar. 2023.
  5. International OCD Foundation. “How Is OCD Treated?” International OCD Foundation, 12 Jan. 2023, iocdf.org/about-ocd/ocd-treatment.
  6. “3 Different Types of Outpatient Rehab Programs.” TruHealing, 2022, https://www.truhealingcenters.com/rehab-blog/3-different-types-of-outpatient-rehab-programs/
  7. Janardhan Reddy, YC, et al. “Clinical Practice Guidelines for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.” Indian Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 59, no. 5, Medknow, 2017, p. 74. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5545.196976.
  8. International OCD Foundation. “What Is ACT?” International OCD Foundation, 5 Aug. 2020, iocdf.org/expert-opinions/expert-opinion-what-is-act.
  9. Kelly, Owen PhD. “How to Improve Your OCD Self-Help Strategy With Relaxation Techniques.” Verywell Mind, 15 Dec. 2020, www.verywellmind.com/relaxation-is-an-essential-ocd-self-help-technique-2510635.
  10. “What is Outpatient Mental Health Treatment?” Penn Highlands Healthcare, 2022, https://www.phhealthcare.org/news/penn-highlands-healthcare-news/what-is-outpatient-mental-health-treatment
  11. Law, Clara, and Christina L Boisseau. “Exposure and Response Prevention in the Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Current Perspectives.” Psychology research and behavior management vol. 12 1167-1174. 24 Dec. 2019, doi:10.2147/PRBM.S211117
  12. O’Neill, Joseph, and Jamie Feusner. “Cognitive-behavioral Therapy for Obsessive&Amp;Ndash;Compulsive Disorder: Access to Treatment, Prediction of Long-term Outcome With Neuroimaging.” Psychology Research and Behavior Management, Informa UK Limited, July 2015, p. 211. https://doi.org/10.2147/prbm.s75106.
  13. Görmezoğlu, Meltem et al. “Effectiveness, Timing and Procedural Aspects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy after Deep Brain Stimulation for Therapy-Resistant Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Systematic Review.” Journal of clinical medicine vol. 9,8 2383. 26 Jul. 2020, doi:10.3390/jcm9082383
  14. Patel, Sapana R., et al. “Acceptability, Feasibility, and Effectiveness of Internet-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in New York.” Behavior Therapy, vol. 49, no. 4, Elsevier BV, July 2018, pp. 631–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2017.09.003.
  15. Marsden, Zoe et al. “A randomized controlled trial comparing EMDR and CBT for obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Clinical psychology & psychotherapy vol. 25,1 (2018): e10-e18. doi:10.1002/cpp.2120
  16. International OCD Foundation. “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for OCD.” International OCD Foundation, 18 Aug. 2022, iocdf.org/about-ocd/ocd-treatment/tms.
  17. International OCD Foundation. “What Is ACT?” International OCD Foundation, 5 Aug. 2020, iocdf.org/expert-opinions/expert-opinion-what-is-act.
  18. “What Is the Success Rate of OCD Treatment?” The Healthy Journal, www.thehealthyjournal.com/faq/what-is-the-success-rate-of-ocd-treatment. Accessed 3 Mar. 2023.

If you suspect that you or someone you love suffers from mental health disorders, contact Athena Care today.

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