A case study perspective on the importance of motivation in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder

Christina J. Riccardi, Kiara R. Timpano, Norman B. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

5 Scopus citations


Up until three decades ago, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) was deemed treatment resistant-an incurable and chronic disease. However, advent of specific behavioral techniques and new pharmacological agents (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) has altered this course and brought effective relief for many OCD patients. Nonetheless, a substantial number of individuals with OCD are treatment resistant and an even greater number refuse treatment or drop out prematurely. The cognitive-behavioral treatment of a 39-year-old male with OCD is described in this case study. Motivational interviewing (MI) techniques were integrated into treatment to increase adherence, particularly exposure exercises. Frequency and duration of compulsive behaviors were measured over the course of treatment and standard assessment measures were used to assess the severity of OCD symptoms. At posttreatment and follow-up a clinically significant improvement was demonstrated for OCD symptoms. Implications of these data are reviewed, and recommendations about inclusion of MI techniques for clinicians who intend on treating OCD are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-284
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Case Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010



  • cognitive behavior therapy
  • motivational interviewing
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • treatment ambivalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

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