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Hello readers!

I’m excited to present to you the new home of our Conference Buzz Blog. We have moved the blog from its old location on the IOCDF website* to its own dedicated page here for a number of reasons: We hope that you will find this blog more user-friendly, easier to navigate, easier to find, and, most importantly, easier to comment on.

We want this blog to be your window into this year’s conference and to give you a taste of what to expect—ranging from what presentations we have lined up for you to what the experience of going to an OCD conference is really like. We plan to have posts from past attendees to talk about their experiences at the conference from the perspectives of individuals with OCD, family members and parents, teens, and older adults. In addition, we will continue our series of posts from conference presenters, offering you a sneak-peak at the conference’s many amazing talks and presentations.

I have another introduction to make as well: My name is Carly Bourne, and I am the new Director of Communications for the IOCDF. I am looking forward to meeting many of you this year in Chicago, and to presenting information to you through this blog in the weeks to come. Our social media intern, Christina Albano, will also still be contributing posts, as will other members of the conference team.

So, without further ado, here is our inaugural post on the new and improved OCD Conference Buzz blog: a Q+A with Patrick McGrath, PhD. Dr. McGrath has been one of our more popular presenters in past years, and this year he is presenting three talks, aimed at both individuals with OCD and mental health professionals.

Q+A with Patrick McGrath, PhD—General Interest and Professionals Tracks Presenter

Patrick McGrath, PhD is a veteran IOCDF Conference workshop presenter. He returns again this year with his talk, “Don’t Try Harder, Try Different,” one of our highest-rated talks from previous Conferences.

How many talks will you be presenting at this year’s Annual Conference?

Patrick McGrath: I have several talks: I will help to present the talk “Introduction to OCD and Treatment: Assessment and Diagnosis (Part 1)” on Friday, I will moderate the “Teen Success Panel” on Friday, and I will be the lead presenter for “Don’t Try Harder, Try Different” on Saturday.

What makes your talks unique? What will conference attendees get out of your talks?

PM: Don’t Try Harder, Try Different (DTHTD) is a fun talk—if people want a little less serious look at OCD, and yet still want to learn something useful about it that they can start to apply that day, then this is the talk to come to.

I have always felt that OCD takes away your ability to laugh and enjoy things, so I like to have humor in my talks to shake things up a bit. There is no reason why you have to live 100% serious, as your OCD would like you to do. Doing some of the DTHTD techniques can help you to get rid of some basic thought and behavior patterns that maintain OCD and then you can let your guard down a bit.

Tell us a little bit about you, what you currently do, and how you became involved in the OCD community.

PM: I am the Director of the Alexian Brothers Center for Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders at Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. I am also the President of OCD-Midwest, the official affiliate of the IOCDF in the Midwest. I am also a faculty member for the Behavior Therapy Training Institute.

I became involved in the OCD community through my Postdoctoral Fellowship with Dr. Pollard at the St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute. I owe all that I do to the training that I received from him and “Mean” Jean at SLBMI.

Have you been to an IOCDF Conference before? If so, how many Conferences have you been to and what is one memorable experience you’ve had?

PM: I have been to many conferences. I always like the debate as to whether the person on our brochure facing the elevator is me or not. I also thought that it was funny in Boston (in 2008) that the hotel was also having a conference for a company that makes hand sanitizer at the same time the OCD conference was going on. I asked an executive from the company if hand sanitizer really worked, and her response to me was, “We have really good marketing, don’t we?”

After taking a look at the Conference schedule (in the Conference Registration Brochure), what presentations and workshops are you most excited about attending and why?

PM: Ping Pong for OCD ought to be really fun—I hope that tons of people come to play. There are so many that look great—OCD and storytelling, OCD versus OCPD, Germ Bombs, Bullying. I wish that I could clone myself and go to all of them.

Since you are local to the Chicago area, what do you recommend visitors to check out in Chicago during their stay?

PM: I am from Chicago—I grew up here actually. I recommend a few things:

  • My Uncle will be leading a walking tour of the City on Sunday, so if you are staying around, think about doing that. He is a Chicago tour guide, so he is a great person to walk around down town with. If you are interested in this opportunity, please call the IOCDF office at 617-973-5801 to find out more information about this.
  • Go to the Cultural Center—it is on the other side of the river from the hotel. They filmed part of the movie The Untouchables in that building, and it also has the largest Tiffany Glass dome in the world. It is amazing.
  • Unfortunately the White Sox are out of town, so you cannot go see them play. [Editor’s Note: The Cubs are in town, if baseball is an interest.]
  • There is a House of Blues not far from the hotel and they usually have some great concerts there.
  • Eat a deep dish pizza. (Spinach is my favorite.)
  • Eat a Chicago Style Hotdog (translation: a hot dog with mustard, neon green relish, onions, kosher dill pickle spear, tomato wedge, sport peppers, and celery salt).
  • Get a Wet Cheesy Combo with sweet or hot (translation: a sandwich on crusty French Bread with Italian Beef, an Italian Sausage, Mozzarella Cheese, dunked in Italian Beef juice, and get the sweet or hot peppers on top).
  • Take an architectural boat tour—they are right on the river not far from the hotel. Gives you a great tour of the city.
  • Bring your bathing suits and hit the beach—Lake Michigan looks as big as an ocean, even from the top of the Sears Tower (OK, it is the Willis Tower, but no one here calls it that).
  • Go to see The Bean (officially CloudGate, but no one here calls it that) and take a picture of yourself in the reflection.
  • Check out the fireworks on Saturday night at Navy Pier at 10:15—they are free!!!

Thanks so much for speaking with us Patrick, and for all of these great ideas for things to do in Chicago—I am sure many of our attendees will appreciate these fun (and tasty) suggestions! Take a look at the Travel page on our Conference website here for some unbeatable discounts to even more local attractions to check out during your stay in Chicago, as well!

Additionally, here is more information about the 3 talks Dr. McGrath will be presenting:

  • “Introduction to OCD Treatment: Assessment and Diagnosis (Part 1)”
    Friday, July 27 from 8:00-9:00 am
    Chicago Ballroom A, 5th floor
  • “Teen Success Panel”
    Friday, July 27 from 1:45-3:45 pm
    Clark Room, 4th floor
  • “Don’t Try Harder, Try Different”
    Saturday, July 28 from 4:00-5:00 pm
    Chicago Ballroom E, 5th floor

*Don’t worry, the older blog posts will remain live on the IOCDF website in case you want to refer back to them at any point.  We hope to also move them all to an archive here on this blog at some point in the future.


  • I am hoping to attend the conference for my first time this year 🙂 The only bad thing is trying to figure out which talks to attend.


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