Annual OCD Conference Review
Following the adjustment to the potent smell of fruitful air fresher and classical music I spot the sign for the elevators. I’ve made it to the hotel. Fortunately, I don't have to push the button for “up” or even wait. There is a door open. Standing in front of the elevator door is a mother with her child. The child is frozen while she gazes into the elevator and watches her mother walk in first, uttering reassurances of safety to the young girl.
I recognize the fear immediately.
I hold the door for the young girl and reassure her we are not in any hurry. “Take your time,” I said. And, “try to move one foot in front of the other.” She cautiously walks in and shoots me a grin.
“Feel better?” I ask. “Yes,” she states with a smile.
Her mother gives me a look of gratitude and states, “I guess we are in the right place for this kind of stuff.”
The mother, child, two other strangers and myself share the elevator to the floor designated for registration for the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation Conference (IOCDF). The IOCDF conference is an annual conference focused on the treatment, research, and support of individuals who struggle with OCD. This conference is unlike any other in that it welcomes world-renowned OCD researchers, expert clinicians, training clinicians, suffers of OCD, and their loved ones. Together, we all share in support and learning. It's remarkable.
This year’s conference was in Chicago, Illinois. It hosted to 1600 attendees and provided four days of learning. Several members of NW Anxiety Institute, LLC attended as learners, supporters, and even shared an exhibit. We joined daily discussions and connected with numerous families who shared with us their struggle of managing OCD in their lives. We met young adults who were excited to share their recovery and offer support. We admired others who attended as newly diagnosed individuals.
The conference provided many “nuggets" of education and inspiration, but the key note speaker, David Adam, stole the show. Adam, the author of The Man Who Couldn’t Stop, shared his experience of living with OCD. Adam is a journalist in the UK who has written scientific pieces for The Guardian. He eloquently, yet realistically described the torture OCD instills in its suffers while connecting deeply with the audience.
Overall, the conference highlighted the need for well trained therapists and reminded us that, not long ago, in our history was it grossly misunderstood and poorly treated. Thanks to the tireless research and collaboration of scientists and therapists over the years, we now know OCD is effectively treated with exposure response prevention (ERP) and medicine. And now the IOCDF provides a vast community to support one another.
We encourage anyone affected by OCD to attend this annual national conference. If you are interested in learning more about IOCDF or attending next year's conference, click here.
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Kevin Ashworth, co-director of NW Anxiety Institute, specializes in the treatment of severe anxiety disorders