How to Support your Loved One with OCD

By Brigette Selbert, MA, PLPC

Living with OCD is a real struggle. Watching a friend or loved one battle OCD is also very challenging. Not knowing what to do or say, but wanting to be supportive, can leave you feeling lost, helpless, and even frustrated. 

If you are reading this and can relate, you are not alone. I specialize in working with clients who have OCD, so I frequently hear the struggles that the people close to them face. Many times, more harm is being done because the people without OCD do not understand the disorder.

OCD is a tricky bully that captivates and confuses the mind. Someone without the disorder cannot grasp what is really going on in the mind of their loved one. So, I’d like to offer a few suggestions on what to do and what not to do if you are close to someone with OCD. 

Things to do: 

  • Listen to their feelings and struggles without judgment.
  • Learn about their intrusive thoughts and what OCD tells them they have to do in order to feel safe or okay.
  • Validate their feelings of fear or frustration around intrusive thoughts. This could sound like, “I can see that this is causing you a lot of stress and fear.”
  • Remind them that OCD is a bully and that you are not going to help them side with OCD. This could sound like, “We both know you struggle with OCD, and this sounds like an intrusive thought. I want to help you, so I am not going to give you reassurance or continue this conversation.” 
  • Remind them of your love for them.

Things not to do: 

  • Do not give reassurance when asked.
  • Do not enable a compulsion. 
  • Do not tell them to “just stop thinking about it.”
  • Do not shame them for not thinking logically. 
  • Do not let out your frustration on them. 

If this was helpful to read and you’re wondering how to learn more and put all of this into practice, I’d like to invite you to my OCD Supporters Workshop. There I will go more in depth about these tips and provide you with tools and resources to help you and your loved one who struggles with OCD. This will be held Thursday, April 18th from 5:30-7:30pm at The Center for Mindfulness and CBT. Please email me with any questions you may have at

Brigette Selbert is an OCD specialist working under the supervision of Dr. Laura Chackes. She has helped many teens and adults with OCD, as well as their loved ones, to live healthy and happy lives.