20th Annual OCD Conference – Recap


We had an incredible time at this year’s 20th Annual OCD Conference in Atlanta, GA!

During the event, the McLean OCD Institute // Houston had the privilege of presenting on many different topics. We are very proud of the team and their active involvement in the OCD community. Below is a list of the eight presentations given by our team and their colleagues, along with some pictures from their talks.  

Fun with Exposures… Is It Possible? Using Creativity to Enhance the Exposure Process

Thröstur Björgvinsson, PhD, with Jonathan Grayson, PhD, Brad Riemann, PhD, C. Alec Pollard, PhD & Nathaniel Van Kirk, MS

The panel demonstrated how using a little creativity and ingenuity can result in a variety of inventive exposures that target difficult beliefs while retaining the efficacy of the exposure process. Panelists discussed how creative exposures can be used to combat low motivation and treatment compliance by making the exposure process more “fun” for patients without compromising treatment effectiveness. Panelists shared case examples of unique exposures they have conducted to treat difficult cases, discussing how they tailored these exposures to an individual’s obsessional beliefs and helpful strategies for doing so. The remainder of the session provided an opportunity for participants to present challenging cases and learn how panelists would approach specific challenges within the treatment process.

OCD Taboos: Strategic Responses to Sexual & Violent Intrusions

Thröstur Björgvinsson, PhD, with Scott Blair-West, MD, C. Alec Pollard, PhD, Christopher Mogan, PhD

Intrusive thoughts with aggressive and sexual themes are very upsetting for OCD sufferers, especially when parents have such obsessions about their own children. Therapy for these symptoms is difficult to obtain, difficult to implement, and can seriously disrupt family and parenting experiences. Obsessive preoccupations can include content that is aggressive and assaultive, abusive and blasphemous, with accompanying shame, guilt and secretiveness. This panel of experienced OCD clinicians presented brief clinical vignettes to draw from the audience relevant clinical dilemmas, conflicts, and strategies in providing treatment for this highly distressing variant of OCD.

OCD Research in Clinical Settings: Assessment, Process, and Outcome

Thröstur Björgvinsson, PhD, with Leslie Shapiro, LICSW, Nate Grutner, LICSW, Jason Elias, PhD, Jason Krompinger, PhD

This workshop featured a symposium of research from researchers at the OCD Institute at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA. The workshop highlighted findings from research with severe and treatment refractory OCD and also provided examples of how to integrate research with clinical practice. Research studies discussed included: “Willingness During Exposure and Response Prevention”; “Assessing Models of Exposure Therapy”; “Critically Evaluating the Effectiveness of IRT for OCD: A Benchmarking Approach”; and “Development of a Scrupulosity Severity Scale Using the Pennsylvania Inventory of Scrupulosity-Revised (PIOS-R).”

Treatment of OCD: How to Go Beyond & Increase Quality of Life

Christen Sistrunk, MA with John Hart, PhD & Wes Clayton, LMSW:

Many OCD sufferers struggle to utilize traditional exposure and response prevention (ERP) due to the shame that they experience about their unacceptable intrusive thoughts. In conjunction with traditional forms of OCD treatment, our experience has shown that increasing sufferers’ self-compassion and having direct focus on improving their quality of life (QoL) and increasing positive affective experience has been effective in treating those stalled in treatment. This presentation reviewed the relationship between intrusive unacceptable thoughts, self-compassion, QoL, and positive affect. We also included clinical examples of exercises, illustrations of interventions utilizing positive psychology, and a demonstration of a treatment plan integrating these interventions into ERP. In addition, an experiential exercise in self-compassion was conducted.

TEENS: Overcoming Unacceptable Thoughts: Reducing Stigma and Preparing for Treatment

Christen Sistrunk, MA, and Kim Rineheart, MA, along with Keri Brown, PhD, Wes Clayton, LMSW, & Nathaniel Van Kirk, MS:

This workshop aimed to reduce the stigma of unacceptable thoughts for adolescents and teens. Panelists with expertise in treating adolescents with OCD guided participants to explore their unacceptable thoughts. Panelists lead small groups in activities focused on understanding and normalizing the presence of these thoughts, as well as developing and implementing appropriate exposure and response prevention techniques. We answered questions regarding the presence of unacceptable thoughts and helped them understand the meaning these thoughts carry for their children. Overall, this workshop helped adolescents and their families gain a better understanding of unacceptable thoughts in OCD, as well as normalize and open up a dialog between family members regarding these thoughts.

Introduction to OCD Treatment Part 1: Assessment & Diagnosis

Thröstur Björgvinsson, PhD with Patrick McGrath, PhD

Information presented about the symptoms and subtypes of OCD, assessment issues, related disorders, and issues in differential diagnosis. This workshop was intended for therapists interested in learning the basics of treating OCD.

Introduction to OCD Treatment Part 2: Exposure and Response Prevention & Medication Management

Throstur Björgvinsson, PhD, with S. Evelyn Stewart, MD

Information presented was about first-line treatment in OCD including medication options and Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy. In addition, adjunct therapies (group therapy, skills training, etc.) were discussed.

Introduction to OCD Treatment Part 3: Family, Child, & Adolescent Therapy

Thröstur Björgvinsson, PhD, with Aureen P. Wagner, PhD & Laura Ferrer, PhD

Information was presented about engaging families in treatment and evaluating accommodation of OCD. Also, issues specific to working with childhood and adolescent OCD were discussed.

A couple of images from our presentations:

We also presented several research posters during the conference. Below is as an example of one that Kim Rineheart presented at the conference. During the presentations, the audience was very interested in the clinical research we are doing at the McLean OCD Institute // Houston, and the questions and comments they had for Kim were outstanding!

Rinehart, K.L., Harrison, L.E., Springer, K., Chasson, G.S., VanKirk, N., Lee, E., Wetterneck, C.T., Hart, J., Kertz, S., Björgvinsson, T. (2013, July). Sudden Gains in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptoms in patients with severe symptom presentation: A pilot study. Poster presented at the 20th Annual Conference for the International Obsessive Compulsive Foundation (IOCF) 2013, Atlanta, GA.

All in all it was an extremely gratifying week. We can’t wait for next year’s conference!!!