Treatment of Severe OCD: A Clinical Workshop

Recently, Thröstur Björgvinsson, Ph.D., of The Houston OCD Program had an opportunity to speak in New York City at The Center for Anxiety on a topic we know just a little about, specifically, the treatment of severe obsessive compulsive disorders. The Center for Anxiety, directed by Dr. David Rosmarin, is located on the 59th floor in Empire State Building, New York City, NY.

The workshop was very successful and as one attendee stated:

“I had the privilege to attend Dr. Thröstur Björgvinsson’s workshop on treating severe obsessive compulsive disorder. Not only was the content extremely interesting and informative, but Dr. Björgvinsson was very engaging and encouraged a rich conversation about the subject matter. The clinical examples he provided of treating severe OCD were inspiring to us clinicians who regularly work with difficult cases.”

– Molly Swanberg, Center for Anxiety

Pictured at the entrance to the Empire State Building are Drs. Throstur Bjorgvinsson and David Rosmarin

Date, Time & Location

Sunday, February 10, 2013 – 12:00-4:00pm | Center for Anxiety | Empire State Building

350 Fifth Avenue, 59th Floor, New York NY 10118

Workshop Overview:

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is the gold standard behavioral treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). However, not all individuals receiving treatment experience a significant benefit.

Studies of adults report treatment refusal rates of 25-30% and treatment dropout rates of 28%. As such, despite their widespread availability and demonstrated efficacy, approximately one quarter of ERP patients fail to gain from the intervention. Difficulty responding to treatment may be attributed to a single factor or combination of various factors including comorbid psychopathology (e.g., depression, personality disorders), excessive family accommodation, overvalued ideation and/or poor insight, magical thinking, low distress tolerance, and symptom severity.

This workshop will present several key issues in the successful treatment of severe OCD with ERP, including case conceptualization, treatment planning, and development of an appropriate hierarchy. Clinical challenges that commonly arise in treatment will be highlighted through case examples of patients who struggled with severe and persistent symptoms. Further, preliminary findings from a naturalistic study of intensive residential treatment for OCD will be presented – indicating that intensive and comprehensive behavioral approaches can be effective in helping patients who failed previous treatment trials.

Intended Audience

This workshop is designed for mental health professionals including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, chaplains, and counselors. Graduate students, clinical fellows and medical residents are most welcome. A basic working framework of OCD and ERP is necessary, though direct clinical experience is not.

  • The 1/2 day clinical workshop centered around:
  • Factors that contribute to the perpetuation and maintenance of severe OCD
  • Methods to implement ERP with severe OCD
  • Strategies to increase treatment response
  • Evidence supporting the effectiveness of residential behavioral approaches

About the Presenter

Thröstur Björgvinsson, Ph.D., ABPP, is the is the director and founder of the Houston OCD Program, director of the Behavioral Health Partial Hospital Program at McLean Hospital and the co-director of psychology training at McLean Hospital / Harvard Medical School. Prior to joining Mclean in July of 2009, Dr. Björgvinsson developed and directed the nationally recognized Menninger OCD Treatment Program in its entire time of operation (from September of 2000 to December 2008). He was initially assistant professor and then associate professor at the Department of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Björgvinsson received his BA from the University of Iceland and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. He completed his Cognitive Behavior Therapy Internship at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School and a Behavior Therapy Fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital OCD Institute, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He has given over 200 presentations and workshops nationally and internationally focusing on evidence-based treatments for anxiety disorders and depression.