Unqualified ‘OCD therapists’ exploiting vulnerable people

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Following a recent media report about unqualified practitioners offering treatments online are potentially exploiting vulnerable people, we wanted to offer some advice to guide people towards reputable and ethical therapists/therapeutic services.

The BBC published this article last week which told the story of somebody we know that claims to be an online OCD coach and an expert by experience charging thousands of pounds.  In the article Jake and Laura share their stories, both of which are alarming, but sadly all too common.

Similar stories could be heard on this BBC Radio 4 programme that was broadcast in September.

Through feedback we hear almost on a weekly basis now of similar stories from people with OCD that have reached out to the aforementioned and other ‘OCD services’ here in the UK.

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

As it stands right now anybody can call themselves a therapist, which allows people to set themselves up to offer therapy/coaching services for money.   As Jake describes in the BBC article, “a person has got quite a large following [on social media] and markets himself as a person with OCD and has got over it, you think that’s a great sign because they know how to get you better, and because they’ve been through it they understand.”.

So when someone describes themselves to be an OCD coach and an expert by experience it’s easy to turn towards such people, especially when you see 40k social media followers and regular testimonials, which we are told he actively seeks, as Laura highlights in the article.

So, understandably all of this can lead to a belief that this is somebody that can be trusted, and this is how and why people can turn to these OCD ‘coaches’. Sadly there are others out there that also change hundreds and thousands of pounds for intensive OCD treatment services, whose qualification is nothing more than a counselling diploma.

REPUTABLE THERAPISTS

As people with lived experience of OCD ourselves we are always very clear we are experts in our own OCD, but that does not necessarily make us experts in your OCD and certainly not qualified to provide chargeable therapy services.

A good therapist will belong to an regulation body that will have its own code of ethics, a complaints system and minimum qualifications to help ensure a level of core standards. Therapists will also often be supervised by an experienced qualified therapist that will also belong to an regulation body. They will be clear about their qualifications and experience on their website and be very open to you asking questions about those.

OCD-UK will once again write to the prime minister and call on the government for tighter regulation on therapists and therapy services.  But we also know there needs to be a multi-faceted approach to ensuring the safety and well-being of vulnerable and desperate people.  That must start with the NHS, especially IAPT, where we must have NHS services that are better informed and skilled in treating OCD.

Until then we will do what we can to help advice and guide people towards reputable therapeutic services.

HOW TO AVOID UNQUALIFIED ‘THERAPISTS’

We recommend seeking qualified therapists that meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • BABCP accredited (not to be confused with BACP) – for therapists
  • HCPC registered – for clinical psychologists
  • GMC registered – for psychiatrists

Searching the databases is relatively straight forward and easy to do, please use the following links, you can of course also email support@ocduk.org should you need guidance on engaging a therapist.

We believe there is a world of difference between someone having experience of working with OCD and being suitably qualified and clinically experienced and trained to actually treat OCD.  If you are seeking private treatment and your chosen therapist/Dr is not listed on any of those three databases then you should proceed with caution before parting with monies.

When you do find a registered therapist/Dr you may still need to ascertain if they are knowledgeable to treat OCD and we have created some guidance on our finding a therapist page on our website.

 

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