People with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are likely to be more susceptible to the mental health impact of COVID-19. This paper shares the perspectives of expert clinicians working with OCD considering how to identify OCD in the context of COVID-19, changes in the presentation, and importantly what to consider when undertaking cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for OCD in the current climate. The expert consensus is that although the presentation of OCD and treatment may have become more difficult, CBT should still continue remotely unless there are specific reasons for it not to, e.g. increase in risk, no access to computer, or exposure tasks or behavioural experiments cannot be undertaken. The authors highlight some of the considerations to take in CBT in light of our current understanding of COVID-19, including therapists and clients taking calculated risks when developing behavioural experiments and exposure tasks, considering viral loading and vulnerability factors. Special considerations for young people and perinatal women are discussed, as well as foreseeing what life may be like for those with OCD after the pandemic is over.
Key learning aims
(1) To learn how to identify OCD in the context of COVID-19 and consider the differences between following government guidelines and OCD.
(2) To consider the presentation of OCD in context of COVID-19, with regard to cognitive and behavioural processes.
(3) Review factors to be considered when embarking on CBT for OCD during the pandemic.
(4) Considerations in CBT for OCD, including weighing up costs and benefits of behavioural experiments or exposure tasks in light of our current understanding of the risks associated with COVID-19.