response prevention

Last reviewed 01/2018

Response prevention is a technique used in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorders.

For example, a patient who washes compulsively after contact with dirt is encouraged to find something else to occupy themself for a period time before washing. This period of time is gradually increased.

In this treatment, the following features are common:

  • sessions should last for at least an hour

  • reassurance only increases the problem

  • supervision is less important than the instruction to the patient not to carry out the behaviour; force is counter-productive

  • home practice is best - a partner may be enlisted as a co-therapist

  • different features of the problem change at different rates

Such treatment may be relatively short e.g. 3-8 weeks, but may have enduring effects.