Residential treatment for OCD involves living at a treatment center for a period of time (typically one to three months) and participating in therapy daily.
The typical day involves some group and individual therapy, as well as daily exposure therapy. A therapist is available 24 hours a day, so a person always has someone around if he or she needs immediate assistance or is in crisis. Psychiatrists are also available for medication consultations.
The goal of residential treatment is to immerse individuals with OCD into therapy. Typically, people who are going in for residential treatment have failed at lower levels of care. Therefore, they enter a residential facility and are monitored extensively. Also, their environment can be very controlled, such as through limitations on access to showers or hand washing or keeping certain areas off limits so that people cannot go back and check things.
Residential treatment can be very successful. The only drawback is that some people have real difficulties only at their homes or their jobs and do not have much difficulty anywhere else. Therefore, they may do well at a residential program, but still have problems when they go home.
It is therefore crucial for residential programs to create exposures that will transfer to people’s home environments to be sure that they are successful even after leaving the therapy.