How Do I Choose the Best OCD Support Group?

Kay Paddock
Kay Paddock
Compulsive hand washing may be a sign of OCD.
Compulsive hand washing may be a sign of OCD.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition that manifests itself as a series of obsessions and compulsions that disrupt daily life. The unwanted, obsessive thoughts and rituals that are almost always present with OCD can range from annoying to nearly impossible to live with. Finding a support group which which to share your fears, worries and frustrations can be helpful in learning to cope with the disorder. Most organizations that are designed to provide mental health information and resources maintain lists of support groups to make it easy to find one in your area. Beyond location, it is important to find an OCD support group that meets regularly, is filled with supportive people, uses a support method and philosophy with which you agree, and that does not endorse one single approach to treatment.

Constantly checking to confirm that doors are locked may be a sign of OCD.
Constantly checking to confirm that doors are locked may be a sign of OCD.

Finding a local OCD support group is probably the easiest part of the process for most people. Most areas have mental health organizations that list local groups. Many even have separate organizations for OCD that can give even more detailed and thorough information. Organizations for both mental health and OCD specifically have phone numbers that you can call for information, and may also have lists of support groups on their websites. Most psychiatrists who treat OCD are familiar with local mental health support groups as well, so you also can ask your doctor for recommendations.

Regularly rechecking to confirm that an alarm clock is set may be a sign of OCD.
Regularly rechecking to confirm that an alarm clock is set may be a sign of OCD.

Once you find a local OCD support group, however, there are still some things to look for to make sure it is the best group for your needs. One of the first hallmarks of a truly good group is that it meets reliably at the time and place where it is scheduled. If the meetings are scheduled at the last minute or they are irregular, you may find yourself disappointed with the level of support. You might also want to ask if the meeting is free or if there is an expected donation or fee each time you attend.

Doctors may be able to recommend the best OCD support groups for patients.
Doctors may be able to recommend the best OCD support groups for patients.

Evaluating who runs the meetings is the next step in choosing a support group. It's a good idea to find out if the group is led by OCD sufferers who get together to talk or if it's led by a healthcare professional. A peer group may offer good support, but a professional can lead the discussion and offer a different perspective on recovery. Also, look at the agenda of the OCD support group. If the group endorses one method of treating OCD and dismisses other methods, it might be too close minded to be helpful to you.

Some OCD support groups rely heavily on prayer and spiritual beliefs for help.
Some OCD support groups rely heavily on prayer and spiritual beliefs for help.

Living with OCD can be difficult, and while most doctors endorse a regimen of medication along with Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), people must ultimately choose which path is right for them. If a group pressures members to follow one path or another, it is unlikely to be supportive of those who do not follow their approved path to recovery. The philosophy of support offered also makes a difference. Some groups follow a 12-step program or rely heavily on spiritual belief and prayer, while others are completely secular. It is important to find an OCD support group that matches your beliefs and philosophies so you do not feel pressured to change in order to get help.

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    • Compulsive hand washing may be a sign of OCD.
      Compulsive hand washing may be a sign of OCD.
    • Constantly checking to confirm that doors are locked may be a sign of OCD.
      Constantly checking to confirm that doors are locked may be a sign of OCD.
    • Regularly rechecking to confirm that an alarm clock is set may be a sign of OCD.
      Regularly rechecking to confirm that an alarm clock is set may be a sign of OCD.
    • Doctors may be able to recommend the best OCD support groups for patients.
      Doctors may be able to recommend the best OCD support groups for patients.
    • Some OCD support groups rely heavily on prayer and spiritual beliefs for help.
      Some OCD support groups rely heavily on prayer and spiritual beliefs for help.
    • There are many different treatment options for overcoming obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
      There are many different treatment options for overcoming obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
    • OCD support groups may focus on specific behaviors.
      OCD support groups may focus on specific behaviors.