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Accepting proposals through Monday, February 1, 2021!

As we gear up for the new year, the IOCDF is already beginning to plan for our live and online events in 2021! Though the Annual OCD Conference is our largest event of the year, one which invites the entire OCD and related disorders community to come together to learn from each other, 2020 taught us a lot about the power of connecting our global OCD community online. 

In response, we are expanding our online programming to include a full series of virtual OCD events in 2021. The first step in the process of planning these events is to create the program — and for that, we need YOU!

We are asking you, our community, to submit proposals for workshops, support groups, and activities for the Online OCD Conference, Online Spanish Conference, Online Hoarding Meeting, and the Online OCD Camp for Kids and Families. Whether this will be your first time submitting or you are a veteran presenter, we look forward to seeing what ideas you come up with. This is your chance to shape your own experience! Ask yourself — what have you always wanted to see? What do you think we have been missing? What have you been requesting over the years, but still not received?

We will be accepting submissions for all online events through our proposal system, which opens just after the New Year on Monday, January 4, 2021. The proposal system remains open through Monday, February 1, 2021 at 5pm ET.

The live 27th Annual OCD Conference will take place Friday through Sunday, July 9th–July 11th, 2021 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City! However, we are using the program that would have been used in Seattle in 2020, and will not be accepting new proposals for this event.  

Every year your amazing proposals make the job of creating the program that much more difficult (but also that much more enjoyable!). To increase the chances of your proposal being accepted, we’ve created a list of do’s and don’ts for you to consider. These suggestions come directly from feedback we receive from Conference attendees and planning committee members each year, so be sure to keep them in mind as you begin creating your proposals!

Tips for submitting a proposal

DO try to create a proposal for an underrepresented topic.

As you consider the content of your proposal, think about topics that may be of special interest to the OCD community. Every year we receive many proposals for some areas, but not enough (or any!) for others. Below are topics that have been frequently requested by attendees and represent areas that may have been underrepresented in previous years:

  • Multicultural and diversity issues
  • Co-occurring issues with OCD (including, but not limited to, substance use disorder, developmental/intellectual disabilities, eating disorders, autism spectrum disorders, PTSD, depression, etc.)
  • Scrupulosity focusing on various faith traditions
  • Demonstrations of treatment techniques
  • Building community in a virtual world
  • OCD and aging
  • OCD and lifestyle factors, such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep
  • Employment/workplace issues
  • Navigating insurance, disability, and legal rights for those with OCD
  • Policy advocacy at the local, state, and/or national level
  • Translational talks about turning research findings into clinical practice§  Topics related to life After treatment, including grieving for lost time, building support networks, etc.

And remember that this is not an exhaustive list! There could very well be another underrepresented topic not on this list. Try to think outside the box and go beyond the basics.

DO NOT feel limited to the traditional lecture-style talk.

The workshops that often receive the highest ratings from attendees are those that are interactive and/or experiential. This can take many forms, from performing a live demonstration of a technique to asking attendees to fill out a quiz on the online platform. When preparing your proposal, think outside the box about creative ways to actively engage your audience. Will you take them through a group exercise? Will you demonstrate a technique with an audience member? Will you show a related video clip? Think about what makes you more interested and attentive in an online presentation, and then apply it back into your own proposal.

DO create a diverse panel of speakers.

While it can be tempting to submit a solo presentation, attendee feedback shows that it is much more impactful and helpful to hear from different viewpoints and perspectives. The goal is to have every attendee of an event walk away satisfied and feeling as though they are not alone. By teaming up with a diverse panel of speakers, this highly 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 on a topic.
  • 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 researchers in similar or different fields to discuss your various findings around a theme and how they might change our current understanding/practice.

Though diversity is important, attendees also report that they get less out of large panels, as presenters often have to rush through their content. We cap the total number of presenters on an online session at four, so bear that in mind when assembling your team. Please also be prepared to explain the role of each person on the panel as justification for their inclusion.

DO NOT over- or underestimate the difficulty of your talk.

Every presentation at the Conference is classified according to difficulty level (introductory or advanced) and these difficulty levels are chosen by you when submitting your proposal. This year, we are asking submitters with Advanced talks to list the topics their audience should already be familiar with.

A surefire way to get negative attendee feedback is by having 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 thoughtful in deciding which level best suits your talk.

DO mix it up from previous years.

We had a record number of attendees at the first Online OCD Conference and other events, and we expect that many of them will return this year! It is thus 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 presentations as last 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 and/or add additional perspectives.

DO NOT forget about community discussion groups!

While educational presentations are the most popular choice when submitting a proposal, community discussion groups are just as vital to the community and to the Conference program. They provide the opportunity for attendees to have fun, socialize, network, and bond after a great day of learning. Community discussion groups can be led by professionals and peers alike, and we welcome submissions for groups of all ages, types, and compositions. Note that we limit proposals to two group facilitators per session.

DO submit to our new and improved Online OCD Camp for Kids and Families

Instead of a Kids & Teens Track at the Online OCD Conference, we are creating a separate event for three distinct age groups: elementary-aged kids, middle schoolers, and high school-aged teens. The Online OCD Camp will be a full weekend of age-appropriate activities for youth with OCD, siblings, parents, and friends. We challenge you to come up with engaging activities for kids, middle schoolers, and/or teens — will you do an art project? Teach them a new skill? Host a virtual dance party? Put yourself in the shoes of a child with OCD or the young relative of a person with OCD, and think of what might be a fun and helpful activity to do. Remember to be age and developmentally appropriate — lecture-style talks for youth are strongly not recommended, and we will prioritize experiential and/or activity-based sessions.

If you have a question that is not answered by this article, the 2021 Events website, or the instructions in the proposal system, please feel free to reach out to us. We can be reached by e-mail at conference@iocdf.org or by phone at (617) 973-5801. Happy proposal writing, and we look forward to reviewing your submissions!


  • Stacy

    Please tell me how can I get notification’s About Zoom Event’s and to join them?


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