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We are just getting our bearings again here in the national office after our 19th Annual Conference, which was a major success. Thank you to all 1,175 attendees! I’m sure that many of you had stories to tell your friends, families, and therapists upon your return. I had the privilege of hearing many inspiring stories throughout the conference, and I wanted to share just a few of them with you.

Ten minutes of compassion: I was running the General Orientation session at the very beginning of the conference when a woman raised her hand and said, “My daughter is stuck in our hotel room and won’t come down. Is there anything you can do?” After the session, I found our board president, Denise Egan Stack — a master therapist in her own right. Denise offered to go upstairs to their hotel room and within 10 minutes, the daughter was downstairs and beginning to take part in a life-changing conference.

“Two psychiatrists walk out of a keynote address…”:  Following our very inspirational keynote address by Liz on Saturday morning, two psychiatrists were overheard saying “After listening to that story we have to rethink EVERYTHING we are doing with our OCD patients.”

Accessible treatment changing lives:  Dr. Reid Wilson, ran—not one—but two 2-day intensive treatment programs at the conference for individuals with OCD. He also donated all of the registration fees back to the IOCDF (over $8,000).  This meant four full days of Dr. Wilson’s expertise, skill, and compassion, resulting in attendees making life-changing breakthroughs almost immediately. And I don’t just mean symptom reduction, but life-expanding, life-recovering changes.

“There’s a conference for people with OCD?”: An attendee wearing her name badge in the elevator of the hotel was asked by a stranger which conference she is attending. After explaining that it was a conference for individuals with OCD and related disorders and families and mental health professionals, the stranger was floored. It turned out that she herself was the mother of a child with OCD, and who had no idea that the IOCDF or the conference existed. Suddenly this woman fumbling in the dark for months to try to help her daughter all of a sudden had a new resource. The attendee showed her to the registration desk where she signed up to become an IOCDF member on the spot and received a list of support groups local to her area.

And now a somewhat longer story. Not just about one individual and her struggle with OCD, but really a story about the courage of one person and the generosity of another.  Jeff Bell is the national spokesperson of the IOCDF, and in his Psychology Today blog post about his experience at the conference, he highlights the courageous journey of another attendee, Carol:

At one point during the weekend, I looked over and saw Carol crying.  I asked if she was okay, and she tearfully whispered that she couldn’t remember the last time she felt so alive.  She pointed out the bracelet she was wearing–the same one that had adorned her wrist the day I’d met her.  Staring at the word IMAGINE, I realized that she had managed to do just that.  I realized too that, in picturing the possibility of her making this heroic trek to Chicago, she had started a much longer and more important journey that will undoubtedly transform the rest of her life.  Read more…

Thank you again to all of you who attended. It is a privilege to meet you all every year, and to be part of your journey towards recovery.


Jeff Szymanski and the entire IOCDF staff

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