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Accepting proposals starting January 4th, 2022

We at the IOCDF are very excited to begin planning for our in-person Annual OCD Conference in Denver, CO as well as our 2022 virtual conference series!

Whether they are in person or virtual, our conferences bring the entire OCD and related disorders community together to learn, train, network, and socialize. The first step in the process of planning them is to build the programs — and that’s where you come in!

We charge you, our community, to think about what you would like the Annual OCD Conference, the Online OCD Conference, and the Spanish OCD Conference to look like. What workshops, support groups, or activities would you like to see at these conferences? What do you think we have been missing? What have you been requesting over the years, but still not received? 

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. Plus, this year, we’re excited to offer you the option to submit to BOTH the in-person and online conference in one submission! Read on to learn more.

The details

  • The in-person Annual OCD Conference will take place Friday through Sunday, July 8–10, 2022 at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center in Denver, CO. We will be accepting submissions through our online proposal system on Tuesday, January 4, 2022 through Tuesday, February 1, 2022 at 5pm ET.
  • The Online OCD Conference will take place Friday through Sunday, November 4–6, 2022. The Online OCD Conference offers the opportunity for the global OCD community to connect, share, and learn from each other in this event filled with talks, discussion groups, and networking opportunities. We will be accepting submissions through our online proposal system on Tuesday, January 4, 2022 through Tuesday, February 1, 2022 at 5pm ET.
  • The Spanish Online OCD Conference/Conferencia de TOC Online will take place Saturday through Sunday, September 10–11, 2022. This conference is an event designed to provide information, resources, and support to the Spanish speakers of the OCD community. We will be accepting submissions through our online proposal system on Tuesday, January 4, 2022 through Tuesday, March 1, 2022 at 5pm ET.

Tips for submitting a proposal

Every year, your amazing proposals make the job of creating the program that much more difficult (but also that much more enjoyable!). In order 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!

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.)
  • Perinatal OCD, including prenatal and postpartum
  • OCD-related disorders — BDD, hoarding disorder, trichotillomania (hair pulling), excoriation (skin picking)
  • Relationship issues, including relationship OCD and intimacy in general (dating/sex/marriage when OCD is involved)
  • 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
  • Family issues, including parents of adult children with OCD
  • Translational talks about turning research findings into clinical practice
  • Topics related to “Life After Treatment”

Please 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 having the attendees break out into groups for an activity. 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 break out into small groups for role plays or discussion? Will you show a related video clip? Think about what makes you more interested and attentive in a 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’s much more impactful and helpful to hear from different perspectives. The goal is to have every attendee of the Conference walk away satisfied and feeling like they are not alone. Teaming up with a diverse panel of speakers 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.

Typically, the ideal panel size is between 3–4 presenters — any more than that, and you may find it difficult to cover your topic within your time slot. Attendees also report that they get less out of large panels, as the presenters often have to rush through their content.  We cap the total number of presenters on a session at five, 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. 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 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. 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 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 and/or add additional perspectives.

DO NOT forget about evening activities and support groups.

While daytime presentations are the most popular choice when submitting a proposal, evening activities and support 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.

  • Support groups can be led by professionals and peers alike, and we welcome submissions for groups of all types and compositions, and for all ages. Note that we limit proposals to two group facilitators per support group.
  • Evening activities have ranged from group exposures to artistic expression activities, from film screenings to story hours.
  • Evening activities and support groups are also great ways to engage certain populations, such as first-time or solo attendees. Use your imagination and let your creativity run wild!

DO submit to our live conference 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. This year, 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 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 Conference 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 hope to see you in Denver, CO and online!


  • Stephanie Boysen

    My daughter (15) is interested in submitting a proposal, but we don’t see how to format it or submit it. How do we help her proceed?

    • Jessica Price

      Hi Stephanie! We’re so happy to hear that your daughter is interested in submitting. The portal will open on January 4th, so I’d recommend checking back on that date. If you have other questions, please feel free to email us at info@iocdf.org or call at (617) 973-5801.

  • Natalie

    Hi! I’m interested in coming to this conference this year! Is this a family-friendly event? My husband and our 3 kids (3,8,10 by the conference date). Although they don’t have ocd, they see me struggle with it daily, and I thought it might help them to see that others are going thru the same. Would they be allowed to come to some of these events, also, or is this something that would be better for me to attend on my own? Coming from Atlanta, Ga, so would prefer to not have to fly and get there on my own. Thanks!

    • Jessica Price

      Hi Natalie! Yes, the Conference is a family-friendly event, and will feature programming for family members. Send us an email at conferences@iocdf.org with any other questions 🙂

  • Marcia Hicks

    What if you want to submit more than one proposal for the conference?

    • Jessica Price

      You can! The system will allow you to submit up to 10.


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