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What is community-driven therapy and why is it important?

Published on:
October 21, 2021

Sometimes, general teletherapy is not enough for individuals who are struggling with issues beyond mild and moderate anxiety and depression. It is time to move beyond one-size-fits-all solutions and move toward more personalization for different conditions. I met with Stephen Smith, Founder & CEO of NOCD, to discuss community-driven therapy and their unique approach to tackling issues like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This was particularly personal for me, as someone who has struggled with OCD since I was a teen. Read my interview with him on the blog and join us for a conversation on November 3rd here

Employers and payers are revisiting their behavioral health strategies in order to better address the changing needs of employees/members. Why are the generic approaches to behavioral health offerings no longer good enough to differentiate benefits?

At NOCD we see that the one-size-fits-all strategy to solve behavioral health needs is not enough. Personalized approaches are imperative for conditions like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that are so highly stigmatized. The general approach fails to identify the unique symptoms of the individual and their specific needs. The need for specialized care is required to better serve these serious psychological conditions that are much more prevalent today.

Solutions that are more modern and innovative are meeting members where they are in their own care journeys, and NOCD works to identify those suffering from OCD where they are already searching for information - online. We then provide necessary, personalized and evidence-based care: Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP), the gold standard in OCD treatment. Delivering a more personalized treatment with a condition-specific therapeutic approach enables members to not only achieve better outcomes, but allows them to reach these outcomes efficiently. It is imperative for employer benefit strategies to adopt this specialized behavioral health care as their employees’ needs have changed. 

Employees are recognizing this need for specialized services for mental health conditions as well as their physical health conditions. Furthermore, they are making career decisions based on whether or not an employer meets their needs and the needs of their families. 

What is community-driven therapy and why is it important?

Community-driven therapy is a new behavioral health market category that leverages condition-specific peer communities to identify consumers in need of help, encourage them to begin treatment, and serve them in an ultra-personalized and evidence-based way. Also, providers in a community-driven therapy model are directed to deliver specific evidence-based treatment modalities based on the specific needs of the community they serve. The Community-Driven Therapy market is poised to successfully address many severe and costly needs within behavioral health, starting with OCD, given it’s so personalized in nature. Serious behavioral health conditions require a personalized setting, a level of convenience, and constant support between sessions. Crafting therapy around the patient allows them to receive therapy more efficiently and effectively, so by utilizing community-driven therapy, NOCD is able to focus on our first and foremost value which is Member-first. What that means is that everything we do at NOCD is for the members we serve and we optimize every step in our process for them. We’ve developed a new way to identify and manage people with OCD as a serious behavioral health condition. 

Through the creation of the largest online OCD community, we developed a deep understanding of the wants and needs of people suffering with OCD. This understanding helps us bring people who have this serious condition to treatment much more easily and efficiently. Each member can continue their own personalized journey while seeing others in the community progress as well which allows our community members to see that they are not alone in their treatment journey.

By using a community-driven therapy approach we deliver improved outcomes, provide unique face-to-face sessions specifically designed for OCD treatment, foster deeper relationships with our patients through peer advisors and provide in-between session support with tools that patients actually want to use. All of these capabilities we have were purposely built through learning from our community and adding the personalized touch that is needed to treat a chronic and misunderstood condition like OCD. We take a deeper look at this in our upcoming State of the Behavioral Health Industry webinar with Solome on November 3rd at 12:00 PM CST, 1:00 PM EST, 10:00 AM PST

There's a lot of confusion around Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Why is OCD so widely misunderstood and misdiagnosed?  You're doing some exciting awareness activities right now, tell us more about that. 

There is often shame and stigma surrounding the OCD population due to the taboo nature of the intrusive thoughts, feelings and urges they experience. Those who are part of this severe and stigmatized population and who may not feel comfortable to share these thoughts end up going undiagnosed and left to suffer in silence. However, we’ve found these same people often search online for answers and this can oftentimes be the best place to intervene and meet them where they are, bring the proper treatment to them, and greet them with a community that understands their journey to regain their life.

This stigma occurs on a mass scale because most people think OCD is a personality quirk and don’t understand that it’s actually characterized by these recurring intrusive thoughts, images, and urges that can be debilitating. Our most recent partnership showcases NOCD’s commitment to breaking down this misconception and effort to destigmatize OCD. As part of our OCD Awareness Month programming, we’ve partnered with comedian Maria Bamford to educate more people about OCD and explain what it’s really like. Through her comedic art, she's helping others understand that OCD is not a personality quirk, but rather a debilitating condition that manifests in taboo ways and is still widely misunderstood. NOCD is on a mission to rebrand OCD through this and our continued efforts in raising awareness and providing education.

Link to Webinar Registration: https://hubs.la/H0ZN16m0

Link to OCD Awareness Month Programming: https://hubs.la/H0ZN80q0

Link to Maria Bamford Videos: https://hubs.la/H0ZNnf60

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