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Achieving Wellness from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a treatment study sponsored by NIMH.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are interested in participating in our study, you probably have a number of questions. Below are the most frequently asked questions about our program. Feel free to contact us for more information about any of these issues or if you have questions not addressed here.

1. How much time will this take me?

If you choose to participate, your involvement in the study will last for up to 9 months. For the first 12 weeks, you will come in to the clinic twice each week. For the next four to six weeks, you will come in once every week, and for the final 20 weeks you will come in once every four weeks. Additional visits may be required. Visits last between 90 minutes and 2.5 hours.

2. Can I choose whether I go off my medication or not?

No. If you have finished therapy and your OCD symptoms are reduced substantially, you will be randomly assigned to discontinue your medication and take placebo instead, or to remain on your medication. You will not know whether you are taking placebo or medication until the end of the study.

3. How may I benefit from joining the study?

There are several benefits you might experience if you are found eligible for the study and you decide to enroll.

  1. You will receive a full course of Exposure and Response Prevention (EX/RP) therapy at no cost to you. EX/RP is an evidence-supported therapy that helps reduce OCD symptoms in many patients; this treatment costs thousands of dollars if paid for out-of-pocket.

  2. If your OCD symptoms improve greatly, regardless of whether you are randomized to discontinue your SRI or to stay on your SRI medication, you will then benefit from excellent psychiatric care, monthly EX/RP sessions to help you maintain your gains, and evaluations of your symptoms at no cost for six additional months.

  3. In addition to these personal benefits, you will also be helping to further scientific progress. You will help us to improve treatment for the next generation of OCD patients and help us to answer important research questions. These include discovering who is most likely to benefit from EX/RP, and if SRI medications can be safely discontinued for those who get well.

Warning: People with OCD should never try to stop taking their medication without supervision by their psychiatrist.

4. What kind of therapy will I receive in the study?

The therapy we use in the study is cognitive-behavioral therapy, specifically Exposure and Response prevention (EXRP) therapy. This is an evidence-based therapy that specifically targets OCD by gradually exposing patients to safe situations that cause them OCD-related distress until the distress decreases. Exposures are either imaginal (the feared situation is confronted in one's own mind) or in vivo (the feared situation is confronted in real-life situations). EXRP also involves helping the patient to resist and control their compulsive behaviors like hand washing and checking.

5. Is the therapy I'd receive in the study different than EX/RP that people pay for?

No, you will receive the same cognitive-behavioral therapy in the study as you would if you came to a fee-for-services clinic. For example, at the University of Pennsylvania site, the same expert clinicians who work in the fee-for-service clinic also provide the therapy for the study. More about the treatment team...

6. What SRI medications are allowed in the OCD study?

The serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) that are allowed in the study are Anafranil (clomipramine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil and Paxil CR (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Luvox (fluvoxamine), Celexa (citalopram), and Lexapro (escitalopram). Dosage can be highly individual, and it is recommended that you call our center to determine if you are eligible.

7. Am I qualified to be in the OCD study?

Determining your eligibility will begin with a phone interview that would last around 10-15 minutes. On this call basic information is gathered about you, including a brief psychiatric background, medication information, and past therapy history. Initial screening will then include meeting with a clinician at one of our centers as well as completing a medical examination, both of which are free of charge. A good first step is to give our center a call so that one of our study staff can conduct the phone interview.

8. If I'm not taking medication for OCD can I still enter the study?

Participation in the study does depend on taking SRI medication. If you are not currently taking medication for OCD but are interested in starting for the purpose of participating in the study, please contact us.

9. How long will the study be available to enroll?

Currently, only the New York site is recruiting. There are a limited number of spots and once each spot is filled there will be no more spaces available. If you are interested in the study, it is better to call soon and ensure that you are able to take advantage of this opportunity for no-cost treatment at an internationally-renowned clinic.

10. Where can I find more information about OCD?

Our clinic websites are excellent places to look for more information about our clinics and about the studyitself. You can also check online at the OC Foundation, which is an international organization that has general information about OCD as well as information about providers. Finally, you might want to look into some books on OCD. Stop Obsessing! How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions, written by Dr. Edna Foa and Dr. R. Reid Wilson, is a widely used book that is excellent for family members and patients alike. Another useful book is Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Personalized Recovery Program for Living with Uncertainty, written by Dr. Jonathan Grayson. More information about resources for OCD...

11. How can I sign-up for the study?

The first and best thing to do is to call our center so that someone can fully explain the study and walk you through the evaluation process. Contact us for more information.