« Blog

Submit your proposal beginning January 2, 2019!

By Alex Bahrawy, MBA, IOCDF Community Support Specialist

The 26th Annual OCD Conference will take place Friday through Sunday, July 19–21, 2019, at the JW Marriott Austin in Austin, TX. The Conference is our largest event of the year, and we invite the OCD community to come together to learn, train, network, and socialize. We are thrilled to begin planning for the Conference; however, in order to create a compelling program that will engage both new and returning attendees, we first need to open a call for presentation and workshop proposals!

As the Community Support Specialist here at the IOCDF, I have had the pleasure of speaking with many of you. At our 25th Annual OCD Conference held in Washington, D.C. this past summer, I spoke with many of you about submitting proposals for 2019. As I listened to all of your wonderful and creative ideas for presentations and activities, it made me even more enthusiastic about the planning process! With 2018 coming to an end, I’m excited to say it’s finally time to start thinking about proposals for workshops, support groups, and activities for this summer’s Conference.

We will be accepting submissions starting on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 through our online proposal system, which will remain open until Monday, February 4, 2019 at 5pm ET.

We received a record number of proposals for the 2018 Conference (over 500!), and are hoping to keep that momentum going for 2019. Unfortunately, this also means that the process has become a bit more competitive than in previous years. In order to increase the chances of your talk being accepted, we’ve provided Information about Submitting as well as a list of Do’s and Don’ts for you to consider.

Information About Submitting

From January 2 - February 4, 2019,  will be accepting proposals for workshops, evening activities, and support groups.

Workshop Proposals:

We are accepting proposals for workshops to be presented during the three days of our Annual OCD Conference (Friday 7/19, Saturday 7/20, and Sunday 7/21). We accept proposals for talks and workshops in the following “tracks”:

  •  General Audience
  •  Living with OCD
  •  Families/Parents
  •  Elementary-aged kids
  •  Middle schoolers
  •  High school-aged teens
  •  Young Adults with OCD
  •  Research to Clinical Practice
  •  Therapists
  •  Hoarding Disorder
  •  Spanish-Language (conducted en Español).

We welcome proposals from individual speakers and groups of speakers.  

Evening Activity Proposals:

We are accepting proposals for activities and special events that will take place in the evenings during the Conference, after the workshops and sessions have ended for the day. Examples of past evening activities include:

  • Ice Breaker events for adults, such as OCD Pub Trivia, a 5-Mile Evening Run, or Second City’s Improv for Anxiety.
  • Fun, family-friendly events such as Ping Pong 4 OCD; Fashion Show & Karaoke for Kids, Teens, and Parents; and OCD Storytelling.
  • Experiential events such as the popular Virtual Camping for Adults with Dr. Jon Grayson.

There is no specific time limit for these activities and special events — if your proposal is selected, we will work with you to design a program that best fits our schedule, as well as the schedule of your activity.

Support Group Proposals: 

We are accepting proposals for support groups that will be taking place in the evenings of the conference on Thursday 7/18, Friday 7/19, and Saturday 7/20. We accept support group proposals for nearly everyone in the OCD community, including: Adults, Youth, and Young Adults with OCD or related disorders (such as Hoarding Disorder, BDD, and PANDAS/PANS) as well as their family members, caregivers, and supporters.

Tips for Submitting a Proposal

These suggestions come directly from feedback we receive from Conference attendees and Conference Planning Committee members each year. Whether you’re a proposal submitting rookie or a seasoned pro, below are key tips and tricks to consider when crafting your submission.

DO try to create a proposal centered around an underrepresented topic.

Every year, we get multiple requests for specific topics to be represented at the Conference, but then do not receive adequate proposals centered around these specific topics. A great way to increase your chances of being selected is to center your proposal around one of these underrepresented topics. Below are topics that have been frequently requested by attendees but may have been underrepresented in previous years:

  • Multicultural and diversity issues
  • Co-occurring issues with OCD (e.g. substance use disorder, intellectual disabilities, eating disorders, autism spectrum disorders, PTSD, depression, other mental health conditions, etc.)
  • OCD and intimacy (e.g. dating, marriage, sex)
  • OCD and aging
  • OCD & legal issues (including insurance and disability information)
  • Translational talks about turning research findings into clinical practice
  • Topics related to “Life after treatment: Now what?”
  • Family issues, especially around couples, siblings, and the entire family system

Remember that this is not an exhaustive list! There could very well be another underrepresented topic not listed above, so we encourage you to think outside the box.

DON’T feel as though you need to utilize the traditional lecture format.

As someone who absolutely loves reading all the Conference evaluations we receive each year, I can tell you with confidence that our attendees enjoy presentations that switch things up. While a traditional lecture format is tried and true, you can really capture the audience’s attention with something like a breakout activity or even a live demonstration. When preparing your proposal, think about creative ways to actively engage your audience. Try to think about which specific things you would find engaging when attending a talk. You can engage with audience members, show a video clip, or even preform a skit.

DO create a diverse panel of speakers.

While it can be tempting to submit a solo presentation, it’s actually much more impactful and helpful for the attendees to hear as many varying viewpoints as possible. The goal is to have every attendee of the Conference walk away satisfied and feeling as though they are not alone. By teaming up with a diverse panel of speakers, this greatly increases the chance that your presentation will have more of an impact on the community. Consider some of the following examples:

  • Are you an individual with OCD or a related disorder? Team up with a fellow individual, family member, and/or professional to provide a well-rounded talk about your different experiences and perspectives.
  • Are you a clinician? See if one or more of your patients and/or colleagues would like to join you on a panel to discuss an issue from several sides.
  • Are you a researcher? Work with other researchers to discuss your various studies and findings around a single theme.

Typically, the ideal panel size is between 3-4 presenters — any more than that, and you may find it difficult to cover your topic adequately. We cap the total number of presenters at 5, so bear that in mind when assembling your team.

DON’T over- or underestimate the difficulty of your talk.

Every presentation at the Conference is classified according to difficulty level (introductory or advanced) and it’s up to you to specify the difficulty level when submitting your proposal. A surefire way to get negative attendee feedback is to have the content of your talk not match the difficulty level you chose. Advanced-level sessions should not cover the basics, and introductory-level sessions should not get too complicated. We aim for the full spectrum of difficulty levels when setting the Conference program, so be sure to take enough time to decide which difficulty level best suits your talk.

DO mix it up from previous years.

While we do get new attendees every year, we also see an increasing number of Conference-goers coming back time and time again. Thus, it is our goal to provide fresh offerings each year that will appeal to both newcomers and Conference veterans. This means we are unlikely to accept the same presentation year after year, even if ratings and attendance were high. Simply changing your title is not enough — use this as an opportunity to mix it up and explore fresh content or even add additional perspectives.

DO submit to our innovative Youth Program!

Beginning in 2017, we switched up the way we provide programming for youth at the Conference. Instead of a “Kids & Teens Track” and separate art therapy rooms, we combined them to create integrated programming for three distinct age groups: elementary-aged kids, middle schoolers, and high school-aged teens. Each program spans all three days of the Conference and youth are treated daily to a wide variety of activities in a camp-like structure. For 2019 we encourage you to submit proposals that provide engaging content and activities that are both fun and appropriate for a specific age group.

DON’T forget about evening activities and support groups.

While daytime presentations are the most popular choice when submitting a proposal, I would urge you to also consider submitting an evening activity or support group. These events are just as vital to the community as the educational workshops, and provide opportunities for attendees to have fun, socialize, network, and bond after a great day of learning.

  • Support groups can be led by professionals and peers alike, and we welcome submissions for groups of all ages, types, and compositions.
  • Evening activities have ranged from group exposures to artistic expression activities, from film screenings to story hours.

For example, one of our most well-attended sessions during the 2018 Conference in Washington, D.C. was an Open Mic Night. This was an amazing opportunity for Conference attendees to show off their talents in the forms of poetry, live performances, and more.

And DON’T forget…

Myself and the rest of the Education & Training team here at IOCDF are happy to assist you with crafting your proposal. Whether you’re unsure of the correct difficulty level to apply to your presentation or simply want some direct feedback on your ideas, we’re here to help.

If you have a question that is not answered by this article, the Conference website (ocd2019.org), or the instructions in the proposal system, please feel free to reach out to us by e-mail at conference@iocdf.org or by phone at (617) 973-5801.

Submission Info & FAQ

You can visit our Conference website to find additional information and answers to proposal submission FAQ.
The proposal submission link will be live on this page beginning on Wednesday, January 2!
Good luck, and we hope you see you in Austin!



    I am living with OCD from 38 years. I struggled a lot without medication, then with spiritual therapy and now on medicines. I have suffered from anxiety and depression more than a dozen times.E very time I fought and survived. I want to share my life experiences with OCD in the conference.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *