Telehealth company NOCD provides virtual therapy and support sessions
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, a telehealth company known as NOCD is continuing to treat people suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, all from the convenient platform of an app.
Founded in 2014, NOCD provides virtual therapy and support sessions to patients suffering with OCD.
A recent study conducted by Columbia University Medical Center showed that the NOCD platform, in combination with therapy, decreases the number of sessions required and severity of symptoms.
According to NOCD’s website, the study concluded that “integrated ERP therapy with an OCD therapist and the NOCD platform was shown by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center to reduce OCD severity by an average of 40% in eight weeks.”
According to the World Health Organization, OCD is in the top 10 for most disabling illnesses.
“There are so many people that go through this condition and get tortured by it,” Stephen Smith, founder and CEO of NOCD, said. “We need to find a way to help the public understand what this is all about.”
Mr. Smith told the News-Press that one in 40 people suffer from OCD and that the idea for NOCD came to him while in college after he came to grips with and was seeking treatment for his own OCD.
“If you know what it feels like to regain your life, imagine what you could do to help other people reach that scale,” Mr. Smith said. “Our mission is to really help people with this condition as fast as possible.”
When he was seeking treatment for his own OCD, Mr. Smith noticed how hard it was to find and asked himself, “What could we do to make OCD treatment more accessible?”
Mr. Smith said that so far, “We found people will go seek treatment online because it is easier for people to open up about their problems in a place they feel comfortable.”
Although the business is considered a telehealth company, Mr. Smith told the News-Press that he considers the firm to be a “telehealth-plus company” because NOCD is more than just therapy and video sessions.
NOCD works by first connecting people with a licensed, OCD-trained therapist right on their phone. Mr. Smith said that the company ensures therapists are qualified by training them at NOCD.
Once patients are connected, they receive a treatment plan during a live video diagnostic assessment and begin their treatment.
“NOCD makes it so easy to get a therapist and get help,” Jaclyn Steinmann said.
Ms. Steinmann is a Santa Barbara resident who shared her positive experience participating in NOCD with the News-Press. She said she found NOCD last January when she was in the “middle of a crisis” and was looking for an effective way to treat her OCD. She said after she found NOCD, it only took two days for her to be connected with a therapist.
Ms. Steinmann told the News-Press a big component to NOCD’s treatment platform is its exposure and response prevention or ERP therapy.
According to NOCD’s website, “ERP is a type of behavioral therapy that exposes people to situations that provoke their obsessions and the resulting distress while helping them prevent their compulsive responses. The ultimate goal of ERP is to free people from the cycle of obsessions and compulsions so they can live better.”
Ms. Steinmann said that although doing ERP can be challenging sometimes, it has helped her tremendously in her life and that because of her successes, she’s even extended her sessions with her therapist.
“People with OCD really struggle with doubt and self-worth,” Ms. Steinmann said.
Mr. Smith said that from his own experiences with OCD, he agrees with Ms. Steinmann about finding self-worth.
“OCD makes you doubt the most fundamental characteristics about yourself,” Mr. Smith said. “It’s so challenging when it’s untreated, but it is so rewarding when it is treated.”
Ms. Steinmann told the News-Press that after tackling some of her fears through ERP therapy, she became inspired to get her master’s in psychology with the goal of helping others with OCD.
“I think it’s important to help people overcome the things that I have had to deal with,” Ms. Steinmann said. “I want other people to feel like this and to know this feeling.”
In addition to helping people treat their OCD, Ms. Steinmann said her “greater goal is to be an advocate for OCD” and that she wants to help end some of the negative stereotypes surrounding OCD.
Ms. Steinmann has noticed that NOCD can also be an easy way for people who are uneasy about seeing a therapist to seek help because, “Instead of saying ‘oh go and see this therapist,’ you can just say, ‘oh go check out this app.’ ”
Going forward, Mr. Smith said the NOCD’s plan is to continue bringing convenient, affordable and effective treatment to people with OCD. He also said that due to stressors created by COVID-19, more people might begin to recognize their undiagnosed OCD because “those stressors often lead to different types of symptoms.”
Ms. Steinmann said that as she pursues her master’s degree, she plans to continue with her NOCD treatment and educate others about OCD.
“It can be a beautiful part of my personality instead of a negative aspect of my life.”