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Are you interested in presenting at the next Annual OCD Conference? The 28th Annual OCD Conference will take place in-person at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis in San Francisco, CA from Friday, July 7 through Sunday, July 9, 2023 (with pre-Conference evening activities and support groups taking place Thursday, July 6, 2023). We are currently accepting submissions for workshops, presentations, support groups, and more!

The Annual OCD Conference proposal deadline is  Tuesday, January 31, 2023 at 11:59pm PT.

Given how competitive it has become to speak at the in-person Conference, we have compiled a list of things you can do (and not do!) to increase your chances of your talk being accepted. These suggestions come directly from feedback we receive from Conference attendees and the Conference planning committee members each year.

NEW FOR 2023!

For those of you who have submitted using our proposal system in the past, you may notice  a few improvements to this year’s system. Historically, we have always built the Conference around a curriculum but have never formally shared that curriculum with our community. But this year, you will now see it reflected in the proposal system! Each track has its own set of topics from which you can select — but we still allow for creativity and innovation beyond those topics! If your proposal doesn’t match the set topics for a given track, simply select “Special Topic” from the list.

Do consider underrepresented topics of special interest.

As you consider the content of your presentation, think about topics that may be of special interest to the OCD community. Every year, we receive many proposals for some popular areas, but not enough for others. 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, developmental/intellectual disabilities, eating disorders, autism spectrum disorders, PTSD, depression, etc.)
  • Perinatal OCD (including prenatal and postpartum)
  • OCD-related disorders: body dysmorphic disorder, 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 levels
  • Family issues, including parents of adult children with OCD
  • Translational talks about turning research findings into clinical practice
  • Emerging trends in OCD treatment (e.g. modalities beyond traditional ERP and medication)
  • Topics related to “Life After Treatment”

Please remember that this is not an exhaustive 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 of 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 team up with others to create a diverse panel.

The best panels have diverse representation, including diverse identities and characteristics (e.g. gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, age) in addition to diverse experiences (e.g. lived experience, family member, therapist, researcher). Panels are great opportunities to present these multiple points of view in a single talk.

  • 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 or colleagues would like to join you on a panel to discuss an issue from several perspectives.
  • Are you a researcher? Work with other researchers to discuss your various studies and findings around a single theme.

Note that the ideal panel size is between 3-4 presenters — any more than that, and you may have trouble fitting everything in! We are also much less likely to accept proposals with 5 or more presenters. For panels of any size, be sure to make a strong case for why each person has a unique and specific contribution to make to the presentation.

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 please help us out by being thoughtful about the difficulty level of your proposal.

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.

Do not forget about evening activities and support groups.

While most of you will likely be submitting proposals for talks taking place during the day, we urge you to also consider submitting an evening activity or support group. These events are just as vital to the Conference and OCD and related disorder community as the educational workshops, and 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 ages, types, and compositions. Evening activities have ranged from group exposures to artistic expression activities, from film screenings to story hours. Use your imagination and let your creativity run wild.

Do submit to our Youth Programming!

The Annual OCD Conference includes programming for youth of all ages via three tracks - elementary schoolers,  middle schoolers, and high schoolers. Each program spans all three days and youth are treated daily to various activities in a camp-like structure.

We challenge you to come up with engaging activities for these age groups — will you do an art project? Teach them a new skill? Host a dance party? Put yourself in the shoes of a youth 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 discouraged, and we will prioritize experiential and/or activity-based sessions.

If you have a question that is not answered by this article, visit the Conference website, or the instructions in the proposal system.

Ready to submit your proposal? Learn more and submit to speak today!

Reminder: The deadline to submit is January 31, 2023.


  • Dear staff,

    I would like to ask about the possibilities to have on your agenda e.g. following points of view (in OCD treatment):
    – Magnetic Resonance-Guided Focused Ultrasound Surgery (= ALIC capsulotomy), researched by professor Jin Woo Chang at Department of Neurosurgery & Brain Research Institute, Seoul, South Korea

    – The Bergen4Day model

    – DBS study by doctors Diana Pascal and Long Long Chen at Karolinska Institute, Sweden

    • IOCDF Logo White
      International OCD Foundation

      Hello Timo,

      Thank you for your interest in the conference! Please direct these questions to : Conference@iocdf.org . Hope this helps!


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