COVID-19 and OCD: Potential Impact of Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy




This brief clinical review critically assesses the use of exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP) for pa-tients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We discuss the ethical and practical considerations that clinicians employed in past infectious disease outbreaks, as well as general safety measures routinely practiced in the conduct of exposure therapy. During this time, concerns regarding the feasibility of ERP have emerged, especially with strict guidelines on social distancing and on following other preventative behaviors. While ERP may have to be modified to follow public health guidelines, this review outlines a) how ERP has been adapted in the context of other infectious triggers; b) the potential impacts on OCD patients of attenuated ERP, and c) minimizing concerns related to litigation. A case report is provided detailing ERP personalized given COVID-19 related considerations. In all, we advise against modifying therapies in ways that may jeopardize the efficacy of patient care or progress.