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OCD Treatment

Question:

Dr. Schwartz, I am told I have a severe case of OCD/perfectionism/GAD and I am considering intensive treatment now. I am looking into the Westwood Institute with Dr. Gorbis. I know you used to work over there and wanted to know if you had any insight or any thoughts as to whether that is a good place to go to treatment. I know it’s expensive but my parents are willing to pay in order for a better future for myself. Most of my OCD is pure obsessional and perfectionistic thinking, lots of checking, reassurance seeking and so forth. Any thoughts or input would greatly appreciated. P.S. I am 26 and read your book when I was 16 when I was first diagnosed, I am glad you wrote it because it helped me be so much more aware of the OCD. I do find myself confused and unable sometimes to discern what’s OCD and what isn’t, something I find to be my biggest battle.

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Answer:

Alas, my good fellow, I am not the revered Dr. Schwartz who worked at Westwood or who wrote the prized book you mention. Indeed, I do not know very much about Westwood although, the little that I have read of their approach, it does seem correct.

By the way, obsessional thoughts are those over which you feel as though you have no voluntary control. That is partly how you can tell what is and what is not an obsessional thought. The same works for compulsive behaviors. People who engage in checking and rechecking are aware that what they are doing makes no sense but they cannot stop doing it. The point is that those of us who are afflicted with OCD have the advantage of being fully aware that the thoughts and behaviors make no sense.

I would suggest you make inquiries with the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and with your local doctors and any psychiatrists and psychologists you know about the quality and effectiveness of the program at Westwood.

Also, you need to clarify with Westwood about their use of medication. My belief is that a combination of medication and behavioral treatments work best with OCD. Also, what do they provide as follow up after you have completed their program? Before your parents spend a lot of money, you should ask these questions of them and of the other professionals I have mentioned.

Great good luck on your journey towards full health. Please feel heartened by the fact that OCD does respond to treatment even if what you have had up until now may not have worked so good.

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