Reviewed by Heather Cashell, LCSW
Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a common mental health disorder that affects roughly one out of every 40 adults aged 18 or older in the United and one out of every 100 kids and teens under 18 in the United States. It impacts people of all demographics, including socioeconomic statuses. Finding mental health care can be intimidating and difficult. Still, it's also life-changing. While it is known to be effective for those living with OCD, statistics indicate that many people with the obsessive-compulsive disorder do not receive treatment. One thing that makes it more difficult to receive treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental health disorders is treatment cost, but there are solutions.
Free And Low-Cost Therapy For OCD
There are a number of ways that you can get free or low-cost therapy or counseling for obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental health conditions or concerns. Here are some places that you can find low-cost or free mental health services:
- Community centers
- Religious institutions, such as churches. Many religious institutions offer free counseling or therapy, so if you attend one, make sure to check if services are available you can access
- Educational institutions, such as colleges or universities. If you are a student, you may have mental health resources on campus that are free
- Therapists and counselors with private practices who offer sliding scale rates based on income
In some cases, scholarships and vouchers are an option for payment. If you're in the United States, consider calling 211 to see if your local 211 operator(s) can help you find mental health services in your area that are low-cost or free. Another potential option for therapy that costs less than traditional in-person counseling or therapy is online counseling or therapy through a website like BetterHelp. Although online counseling or therapy is not free, it is a fraction of what counseling or therapy often costs without insurance in person.
Free Mental Health Support For OCD
Peer support options are not a replacement for treatment, but they are almost always free to attend. Here are some peer support options for those living with OCD.
Traditionally, support groups meet in person, but more and more remote support group options are becoming available. Support groups can be held in person, virtually, and over a voice call. If you're wary of face-to-face support due to COVID-19, you aren't alone, and there are options. To find a support group that's based near you, you can conduct a web search for "OCD support groups near me," ask an obsessive-compulsive disorder specialist or center for a recommendation or use a search group locator tool that can help you find an obsessive-compulsive disorder support group.
Here are some websites that can help you find support groups in your area:
The International OCD Foundation Or IOCDF Website
The International OCD Foundation, or IOCDF, was founded in 1986 by people who have personal experience with OCD. Click here to find a support group through the IOCDF website. Websites such as the IOCDF or international OCD Foundation website are also excellent resources for people hoping to learn about OCD or find services or support outside support groups. In fact, the IOCDF resource finder, located on their website, can be used to find a therapist, counselors, support groups, and more.
The OCD Action Website (UK)
Based in the United Kingdom, the OCD Action website can help you find support groups for OCD and related disorders. Click here to use the website to find a support group.
Note that support groups aren't the same as group therapy and that, again, they cannot replace treatment. Group therapy can be highly advantageous to those with OCD, so if that is something that you're interested in, it is something to consider. The difference between group therapy and support groups is that support groups are not a form of treatment and do not need to be run by a medical or mental health professional. Group therapy is a form of treatment that must be led by a medical or mental health professional.
Online forums are another way to get peer support from the privacy of your own home. In addition to being free, the benefit of a support forum is that you can use them whenever you want. So, instead of attending meetings at specific times, which may not work with everyone's schedule, you can post any time and read other people's posts at any time.
Here are some examples of online forums for those with obsessive-compulsive disorder and related disorders:
The OCD Forum On Mentalhealthforum.net
Mentalhealthforum.net is a website with a variety of different forums for people living with various mental health concerns and disorders, including OCD, and other disorders, like anxiety disorders and depressive disorders. To access the OCD forum on mentalhealthforum.net, click the following link or copy and paste it into your browser:
The OCD Action Forum
This is a UK-based forum for those living with OCD and loved ones of those with OCD. To access the OCD action forum, click the following link or copy and paste it into your browser: https://www.ocdaction.org.uk/forum.
The My OCD Community Forum
This forum is a partnership between the international OCD foundation and health unlocked. The forum was launched in 2018, and in addition to serving as a form of support for those living with obsessive-compulsive disorder, it also has a subforum for loved ones of those with OCD. Copy and paste the following link into your browser or click the following link to access the My OCD Community forum: https://healthunlocked.com/my-ocd.
Workbooks And Other Resources
Some workbooks are downloadable online for free, where others can be found at a low cost. Here are some workbooks designed for those living with OCD:
"The OCD Workbook: Your guide to breaking free from obsessive-compulsive Disorder"
by Bruce M. Hyman, Ph.D., and Cherry Pedrick, RN.
"Daring to Challenge OCD: Overcome Your Fear of Treatment & Take Control of Your Life Using Exposure & Response Prevention"by Joan Davidson, Ph.D.
"Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts: A CBT-Based Guide to Getting Over Frightening, Obsessive, or Disturbing Thoughts Paperback"by Sally M. Winston, PsyD, and Martin N. Seif, Ph.D.
"The OCD Workbook: Your Guide to Breaking Free from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder" by Bruce M. Hyman, Ph.D. LCSW and Cherlene Pedrick, RN.
"Free from OCD: A Workbook for Teens with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder" by T. Sisemore. (For teens).
One of the most popular treatments for OCD is exposure and response prevention therapy or ERP, a subtype of cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. Since cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure and response prevention therapy have both been well researched and are known to benefit those with obsessive-compulsive disorder, many workbooks for those with obsessive-compulsive disorder focus on skills and concepts from those types therapy. For all information regarding specific therapies or treatments, make sure to reach out to a medical or mental health provider, and remember that workbooks, like peer support, cannot replace treatment.
OCD Symptoms And Overview
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are fixations experienced by those with obsessive-compulsive disorder, where compulsions are behaviors used to relieve fixations and the intrusive thoughts or mental images affiliated with one's fixations. There are a number of different types of obsessive-compulsive disorder, including but not limited to contamination OCD, which typically pairs with cleaning or washing compulsions; symmetry OCD, which typically pairs with ordering compulsions such as arranging items, harm OCD, which typically pairs with checking compulsions meant to ensure that harm will not or cannot occur, and purely obsessive OCD, which is a form of OCD with no visually noticeable compulsions where someone typically experiences mental compulsions instead. An example of mental compulsions would be counted in one's head or repeating words or phrases.
Symptoms that may occur in a person with OCD include:
- Rituals or ritualistic behavior
- Repetitive words, phrases, or movements
- Anxiety, fear, or panic attacks
- Social isolation or withdrawal from others
Some people with OCD also experience symptoms such as nightmares, food aversion, or feelings of guilt. If you relate to the description of OCD, OCD examples, or symptoms of OCD listed above, reach out to a medical or mental health provider who can provide you with an adequate evaluation and diagnosis. OCD symptoms in adults and OCD symptoms in children are similar. To read more about pediatric OCD or OCD in children, click here to learn more through the IOCDF website.