Each year at the Annual OCD Conference, Dr. Reid Wilson hosts his 2-day intensive treatment program immediately before and following the conference weekend. This cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT)-based group, is a great treatment opportunity for individuals with OCD who might not otherwise have access to an intensive OCD treatment program. Each year we get many questions from prospective attendees about what they can expect in the group, and if it’s right for them. We asked Dennis Rhodes, who attended the group in Chicago, to share his experience on our blog.
“Do the opposite of what anxiety expects.” Years ago, prior to participating in Dr. Reid Wilson’s 2-Day Treatment Program at the Annual OCD Conference, those words would make little sense to me. Two years later, well into my recovery from OCD, those words are the most potent weapon in my anti-OCD arsenal.
To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive about participating in the program. I’d been working (and still do) with a therapist back home and I was concerned that Dr. Wilson’s program would contradict or somehow interfere with my ongoing therapy. Yet my gut instinct said to do it, to take that risk. I went to the program immediately following the Annual OCD Conference in Chicago in 2012. It sounds trite but I’ll say it anyway: it changed my life. Not only did the Workshop not countermand my ongoing therapy — it reinforced it. I learned how to use my free will to prevail over this perplexing and persistent disorder known as OCD.
It was eye-opening as well to see the various ways in which my fellow participants suffered, and coped with, OCD. Our symptoms and our “acting out” may have been different, but all of us bore the unmistakable burden of OCD. When someone would describe their symptoms/obsessions, I’d think to myself “that makes no sense”. Then I remembered what Dr. Jeff S. said: “People with OCD know what they’re doing makes no sense, but they do it to cope with the overwhelming anxiety…”.
The group I was with all seemed highly motivated. Dr. Wilson has a natural — and non-threatening — way to draw an individual out, to discuss his (or her) OCD without embarrassment or fear. This atmosphere of trust and complete acceptance was crucial to the Workshop’s framework of discussion, dialog and role-playing. Dr. Wilson was empathetic, available and non-judgmental.
I had no idea that my own foray into role-playing would be cathartic. I volunteered to join Dr. Wilson in a tug-of-war using a towel. Dr. Wilson, in our scenario, personified OCD trying to pull me into a deep, black abyss. My choice was to tug on the towel as mightily as I could — or just drop it. The decision was solely mine — but Workshop participants were invited to comment and/or advise. Beads of sweat formed on my brow as I desperately pulled on the towel. Then a workshop member caught my eye. He said to me, so simply and matter-of-factly — “drop the towel”. And I did. I stumbled back to my seat in a daze, light-headed. The young man who’d told me to drop the towel saw what I did not initially see: my pulling on the towel was pointless and fruitless. OCD expected me to continue in the fight. But I did the opposite of what OCD expected. My exercise of my free will severely diminished OCD.
I look forward to taking Dr. Reid’s workshop again at some future date. If you are contemplating taking it for the first time, I have just two heart-felt words of advice: DO IT.
Dr. Wilson is running two sessions this year at the 27th Annual OCD Conference in Seattle. Session I will be held on Wednesday, July 29th & Thursday, July 20th, and Session II will be held on Sunday, August 2nd & Monday, August 3rd, 2020. This treatment opportunity will be held at the Conference hotel, Hyatt Regency Seattle. The group will be limited to 8 participants on a first-come, first-served basis. This program has sold out for each of the past 10 years we’ve offered it, so register now to make sure you get a spot! Click here for more information, and to learn how to register today.