Short-term psychodynamic therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder: A manual-guided approach to treating the "inhibited rebel"

Bull Menninger Clin. 2017 Fall;81(4):341-389. doi: 10.1521/bumc_2017_81_07. Epub 2017 Jul 26.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic disabling disorder characterized by recurrent obsessions and uncontrolled compulsions. Recent research on anxiety disorders suggests that manual-guided short-term psychodynamic therapy (STPP) may be a promising approach. Building on this, a model of STPP for OCD was developed based on Luborsky's supportive-expressive (SE) therapy. Treatment consists of 12 modules, which include the characteristic elements of SE therapy, that is, a focus on the Core Conflictual Relationship Theme (CCRT) associated with OCD symptoms and on establishing a secure alliance. Disorder-specific treatment elements were integrated, including addressing ambivalence, differentiating between thinking and acting, mitigating the superego, addressing existential issues, and, last but not least, implementing Freud's original recommendation to induce OCD patients to face the feared situation and to use the aroused experiences to work on the underlying conflict (i.e., CCRT). There are reasons to assume that the empirically derived model of STPP described here may be beneficial in OCD.

MeSH terms

  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Humans
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / therapy*
  • Psychotherapy, Psychodynamic / methods*