Behavioral Therapy Teams for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Lessons Learned From a Pilot Randomized Trial in a Community Mental Health Center

Maria C. Mancebo*, Agustin G. Yip, Christina L. Boisseau, Steven A. Rasmussen, Caron Zlotnick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Community mental health centers (CMHCs) provide the majority of mental health services for low-income individuals in the United States. Exposure and response prevention (ERP), the psychotherapy of choice for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), is rarely delivered in CMHCs. This study aimed to establish the acceptability and feasibility of testing a behavioral therapy team (BTT) intervention to deliver ERP in CMHCs. BTT consisted of individual information-gathering sessions followed by 12 weeks of group ERP and concurrent home-based coaching sessions. The sample consisted of 47 low-income individuals with OCD who were randomized to receive BTT or treatment as usual (TAU). Symptom severity and quality-of-life measures were assessed at pretreatment, posttreatment, and 3- and 6-month posttreatment. Feasibility of training CMHC staff was partially successful. CMHC therapists successfully completed rigorous training and delivered ERP with high fidelity. However, training paraprofessionals as ERP coaches was more challenging. ERP was feasible and acceptable to patients. BTT participants were more likely than TAU participants to attend their first therapy session and attended significantly more treatment sessions. A large between-group effect size was observed for reduction in OCD symptoms at posttreatment but differences were not maintained across 3- and 6-month follow-ups. For BTT participants, within-group effect sizes reflecting change from baseline to posttreatment were large. For TAU participants, depression scores did not change during the active treatment phase but gradually improved during follow-up. Results support feasibility and acceptability of ERP for this patient population. Findings also underscore the importance of implementation frameworks to help understand factors that impact training professionals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1296-1309
Number of pages14
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • OCD
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • community mental health
  • exposure and response prevention
  • implementation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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