World’s Largest Resource for OCD Comes to Chicago

International OCD Foundation brings together patients, families and world renowned experts at the Annual OCD Conference, July 29–31

CHICAGO (7/22/2106) — More than 1,600 people will attend the International OCD Foundation’s 23rd Annual OCD Conference, which will be held this summer in Chicago. Running July 29 to 31 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, the OCD Conference is the world’s largest event dedicated to obsessive compulsive disorder and related disorders, including hoarding and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, The International OCD Foundation is the leading advocate for the OCD community. The IOCDF funds OCD research, trains professionals to treat OCD, helps patients access treatment and support, and oversees online resource centers for information on OCD, hoarding disorder, and BDD.

Obsessive compulsive disorder affects some 3 million people in the United States, including children and teens. Though OCD has no cure, its symptoms — which include obsessions and compulsions — can be effectively managed through cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.

The Annual OCD Conference blends research news with on-site treatment and support. Children often meet other youth with the disorder for the first time, while their parents find support and share tips. Attending therapists receive accredited professional education and training. OCD sufferers have the ability to meet with the country’s leading experts and researchers and participate in programs that can jumpstart their treatment.

“OCD is an often misdiagnosed and ineffectively treated mental disorder,” says Dr. Jeff Szymanski, executive director of the IOCDF. “So many individuals and families affected by OCD continue to have difficulty in accessing resources and finding effective treatment. Through our conference we want to bring our resources across the country each year to build new support systems, help families find efficient treatment, and change lives.”

The conference’s keynote speaker is David Adam, an editor with the science journal Nature and a former specialist correspondent with the Guardian newspaper. He is the author of The Man Who Couldn’t Stop, an award-winning and best-selling book about his experiences with OCD. Adam will address the crowd and share his personal journey to recovery and advocacy with conference attendees.

John Green, The New York Times best-selling author of The Fault in Our Stars, will receive the International OCD Foundation illumination award via video, an accolade given annually to influencers whose work accurately and respectfully represents OCD and related disorders in an effort to raise awareness and understanding.

Chicago’s legendary comedy club, The Second City, has partnered with the IOCDF to host Improv for Anxiety, a three-hour workshop and discussion on how improvisation can be a recovery tool for people with anxiety disorders.

Among the program highlights that media can attend upon request:

It Takes a Village: A Clinical & Community Response to Hoarding

  • “It takes a village” to solve the greater issues of hoarding and how it impacts the community. Eviction, cleanouts and fines are not the solution. Relocation is not the solution. Wrap around support, services and training can solve this problem. Training is tailored for any professional who works with hoarding disorder, including mental health professionals, community-based professionals, first responders, housing authority staff, public health officials, and peer responders.

Treating OCD and Substance Use Disorder (SUD): Tools for Effective Treatments

  • Margaret Sisson who lost her son Riley to an overdose will share her family’s personal story. Stacy Conroy, LCSW, MPH, Michael Jenike, MD, Jonathan Hoffman, PhD and Ethan Smith will lead this session about the treatment of OCD in patients with SUD. Many of the aspects of OCD treatment, including engagement, education, treatment planning, Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy, and medication management, require different approaches for this population. The unique treatment issues related to the treatment for these co-occurring disorders will be addressed with case studies. Strategies provided to attendees will include sample treatment protocols, program development strategies for incorporating evidence informed OCD-SUD treatment into a practice/program, a brief overview of evidence-based treatments for SUD to enhance concurrent treatment outcomes, and other resources for clinicians and patients. Time will be allotted for a question and answer session with the audience.

From Dating to Marriage: How to Co-Exist with OCD

  • “What if I get my partner pregnant?” “No one will want to date/marry me because of my OCD.” These are often the difficult thoughts associated with OCD and relationships. This talk will discuss how OCD interferes in dating and marriage, when to introduce a partner to OCD, how to handle being triggered by a partner, and the tools used to overcome these difficulties. The session will include an interactive speed dating roleplay.

Reflecting on Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD): recent findings and implications for treatment

  • This presentation by five mental health professionals who specialize in BDD features four recent findings on the psychopathology and treatment of BDD. Medical professionals will present data examining the following: general shame and body shame as predictors of BDD severity and outcomes; findings on “not-just-right-experiences” (uncomfortable feelings of incompleteness, imperfection, or perceptions that the environment is not as it should be); motives for drug use in BDD and findings on mechanisms underlying symptom change in cognitive-behavioral therapy for BDD.

Improv for Anxiety

  • Presented by the world famous Second City Training Center in Chicago, this is a fun, interactive session introducing improvisational concepts and exercises that can be used by people with OCD, family members, and mental health professionals to combat anxiety. Find out why laughter can be the best medicine. 

Professional Plenary Featuring Dennis Tirch

  • Recent research demonstrates that compassion is a significant, active process in psychotherapy. During this discussion of compassion focused therapy (CFT) for the treatment of OCD, the science of self-compassion can be used to enhance both clinical work and personal recovery. Participants will learn the basics of imagery and psychotherapy techniques designed to face the challenge of living well with anxiety and intrusive thoughts.

Support Groups

  • Will be held throughout the event focusing on a variety of topics including: hoarding, teens and young adults, parents of children and adults with OCD, and OCD recovery. 

Registration for the conference is open to all and continuing education credits are available to qualified professionals. For more information and to register visit or call (617) 973-5801.

About The International OCD Foundation

The International OCD Foundation is celebrating its 30th anniversary as a donor-supported nonprofit organization, working to increase access to effective treatment, end the stigma associated with mental health issues, and foster a community for those affected by OCD and the professionals who treat them. Based in Boston, the IOCDF has affiliates in 22 states and territories, as well as 11 global partners. The IOCDF has a $2 million annual operating budget, has granted millions of dollars for OCD research, and is a vital resource for the estimated 1 in 100 individuals with OCD around the world. For more information, visit

Katie Stinchon, Teak Media