“And We’re Live!” — Talking about OCD and Treatment on the Radio

Marni L. Jacob, Ph.D., ABPP, was recently a featured guest on Sirius XM’s Doctor Radio show About Our Kids. In this article, IOCDF communications manager, Amanda Ota, interviewed Dr. Jacob to gain an inside look at what a radio appearance is like and what talking about OCD and treatment is like on-air!

How did the interview come together?

The interview came together rather quickly. A producer at SiriusXM reached out to IOCDF and requested an expert in OCD and related disorders to participate in a live radio interview the next morning on SiriusXM's Doctor Radio About Our Kids radio show. I agreed to participate, and the radio producer sent me the details.

What was the content of the interview?

I was told of the topic, which was to be a general discussion about how parents can identify a child who has OCD and/or anxiety, and diagnosis and treatment options. Most of the interview consisted of questions asked by the radio show hosts, who were a psychologist and psychiatrist from NYU Langone Health. Initial questions focused on describing obsessions and compulsions, including what warrants diagnosis of symptoms as a disorder, and typical age of onset. Interviewers asked how to recognize when behaviors may be based in OCD versus being developmentally appropriate behaviors of early childhood. We also spent time discussing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with exposure and response prevention (ERP) for OCD, including the importance of providing psychoeducation and a solid rationale for treatment. Other questions focused on managing co-occurring disruptive behavior, addressing myths about treatment, changes to how OCD is categorized in the DSM-5, and the inhibitory learning approach. The show ended with some brief Q&A from audience members who called in.

What did you share? 

Though the discussion was guided based on the interviewer’s questions, there were a few key points that I strived to mention. I referenced the IOCDF, as I think it is essential for more people to know where they can find support and resources. I specified CBT with ERP as an effective, first-line treatment for OCD with robust empirical support, and I emphasized that it is important for patients to work with an experienced, specialized treatment provider. I also sought to address some of the myths and misperceptions that exist about the use of exposures in treatment, by conveying that treatment should be collaborative, manageable, and empowering. Since some people have beliefs that exposure therapy can be cruel and/or unnecessarily distressing, I think it is essential for us to address such concerns, particularly given the absence of empirical data indicating that exposure is harmful and/or intolerable (see Spencer et al., 2023 for a review). This is especially important, since negative beliefs about therapy may prevent people from seeking treatment. Although the intensity of exposures can certainly vary, I discussed that ethical clinical practice involves building a strong therapeutic alliance and considering a patient’s goals and values in the design of exposures. I reviewed examples to help get youth on board, such as by incorporating games and rewards into treatment. Lastly, I tried to convey a message of hope to listeners by emphasizing that we have highly effective treatment available to help individuals with OCD gain skills to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life and functioning.

Is there anything you didn't have a chance to share in the interview that you'd like to share now?

As the interview was fairly short, it generally consisted of brief bites of limited information, which can be difficult to provide, given such a complex disorder. However, I would have liked to share more about the lesser known symptoms and presentations of OCD. Many of the examples discussed during the interview mentioned stereotypical presentations of OCD symptoms, often focused on rituals related to organizing, checking, and handwashing. I think it is important for people to know about other common OCD symptoms, such as intrusive or taboo thoughts, morality and/or scrupulosity, “just right” symptoms, and the many other ways that OCD can manifest. This, in turn, will facilitate more accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Additionally, it would have been helpful to talk more about how parents and caregivers often inadvertently reinforce OCD, due to a desire to decrease their child’s distress. Further, it would be useful to elaborate on how it is beneficial for parents and caregivers to be actively involved in treatment, such as by learning skills to better support their child with OCD.

What was the experience like being on the radio?

The experience was enjoyable, as it was a collegial discussion with peers. As the interview felt short and quick, it can sometimes be challenging to answer multifaceted questions succinctly, given the limited time frame of an on-air interview. However, I hope it was helpful in getting some good information to those who need it!

Do you have any advice for other therapists who might be interested in being featured on the radio in the future?

My advice would be to go for it, as radio interviews are a great way to disseminate information and resources to a large audience. If you have advance notice before the interview, it could be helpful to list any important points that you want to highlight during the interview. If possible, you could also request a list of pre-determined questions, as that can help you better prepare. Be thoughtful about what you say, as listeners will trust that you are sharing accurate information. I’d also suggest trying to use examples and language that are easily understood by a layperson audience, versus overly clinical or scientific terms.



Spencer, S.D., Stiede, J.T., Wiese, A.D., Guzick, A.G., Cervin, M., McKay, D., & Storch, E.A. (2023). Things that make you go Hmm: Myths and misconceptions within cognitive-behavioral treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, 37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jocrd.2023.100805