A huge hurdle people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) often face is finding a qualified therapist in their area and price range—and the key word here is qualified. Too often a therapist includes OCD on the list of issues they treat but they haven’t been trained in evidence-based treatment, or exposure and response prevention (ERP). Stephen Smith, the founder of the NOCD app, has worked tirelessly to expand the network of therapists who are properly trained in ERP and can take clients from anywhere in their state. What he and the NOCD team have done for individuals with OCD is groundbreaking.
You launched NOCD in mid-2017. Can you tell us what your initial goal was with the NOCD app?
When the NOCD platform officially launched in mid-2017, our goal was to improve the way people with OCD self-manage between therapy sessions. Even if someone is lucky enough to see a licensed therapist with specialty training in OCD and exposure and response prevention (ERP), they often will still spend over 99 percent of their time alone, since their therapist can’t go home with them. NOCD’s initial functionality bridges this gap, as it helps people with OCD accept uncertainty when they’re unexpectedly triggered, do ERP treatment exercises, and get support from peers in the community going through similar experiences.
What has changed since then?
While growing NOCD, we learned most people with OCD can’t access a licensed therapist with specialty training in OCD and ERP due to where they live in their state, their busy schedule, and how much money they make. This is challenging since people with OCD need to see a licensed therapist with specialty training in OCD to get better, given how counterintuitive ERP treatment can be at times. To mitigate the access issues, people with OCD can now connect with a licensed therapist who specializes in OCD and do live, face-to-face video sessions with them, all inside the NOCD platform. NOCD therapists either take insurance or offer a sliding scale to make treatment affordable, and they can be accessed no matter where you live in your state. Then, between sessions, you can message your therapist and use the NOCD platform’s functionality for support.
How many states now have qualified therapists people can find through NOCD?
People in fourteen states today can access a NOCD therapist: Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee. This month, we will also be opening in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
You trained therapists who didn’t already treat OCD. Why? How were they trained?
Because our clinical team has over forty years of experience treating OCD and training providers in ERP, we decided to develop a system to grow the number of OCD therapists in the nation. This allows us to expand access to more people. Our therapists go through a several-day ERP training course run by our clinical team, and afterward they are supervised by our clinical team for several months. The outcomes support our training’s success, as most people with OCD who get treatment from NOCD therapists experience a 40 percent reduction in OCD severity within eight weeks.
How can someone suffering with OCD find a therapist with NOCD? How else can the app help?
It’s really easy. If you go to our website, you can book a free 15-minute call to learn more about working with a NOCD therapist. Also if you have the NOCD app, you can hit the therapist button and schedule a call there too.