Cognitive-behavioral treatment of obsessive thoughts: a controlled study

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1997 Jun;65(3):405-13. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.65.3.405.


Twenty-nine patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder as diagnosed in accordance with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd ed., revised; American Psychiatric Association, 1987) who did not have overt compulsive rituals were randomly assigned to treatment and waiting-list conditions. Patients in the treatment condition received cognitive-behavioral therapy consisting of a detailed explanation of the occurrence and maintenance of obsessive thoughts, exposure to obsessive thoughts, response prevention of all neutralizing strategies, cognitive restructuring, and relapse prevention. Compared with waiting-list patients, treated patients improved significantly on measures of severity of obsessions, current functioning, self-report obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and anxiety. When waiting-list patients were subsequently treated, the combined group improved on all outcome measures. Treatment gains were maintained at 6-month follow-up. Results indicate that cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective in the treatment of patients with obsessive thoughts, a group that has often been considered resistant to treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / therapy*
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Random Allocation
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome