Starting Your Own Group
The OC Foundation Web site also contains information for forming your own group. Some reasons you might want to do this include a lack of support groups in your area, or problems with scheduling or venue. (As mentioned previously, many groups meet in hospitals — not ideal if you have contamination phobias. Then again, with sufficient motivation, you might be moved to try to set your worries aside for an hour every month or week, depending on how often the group meets.)
On Your Own
If you decide that you would like to look into creating your own in-person support group for people who have OCD or for their families (or both), you will need to decide whether you would like a therapist (or perhaps two alternating therapists) to facilitate your meetings, and whether you would like to employ a formal structure, such as a lecture each week, followed by a meeting.
A few of the more fun Web sites that deal with OCD (at least in part) include
If you would like to engage a facilitator, of course, you will have to find one. Going online, asking your current therapist for recommendations, or looking in your local phone book may be more or less the only ways to go. And they may be quite successful — many such groups already exist.
Finding a therapist, or therapists, who will agree to facilitate an OCD support group on a regular basis may be difficult (but it is not impossible): Most people today have a lot less free time than they would like. You might suggest, as did one successful support-group founder who reported on the OC Foundation's Web site, that facilitating a group might be good for business: The therapist will be surrounded by potential patients. She will also have a chance to learn a lot more about OCD firsthand.
Once you have this part of the puzzle in place, your next step will be to let people know about it. Therapists you've contacted might be willing to tack small notices about your group to their office bulletin boards. If you want to have information cards printed, you can offer those.
Other venues include your local chapter of the OC Foundation and classified ads.
If you think creatively, you can probably come up with still more ways to publicize your group. Oh, and remember this old rule: Whenever you're looking for an apartment, a job, or a relationship, tell everyone you know. Apply it to your proposed group and see if that doesn't bring the results you're looking for.
Phobialist.com contains the proper names of more than 500 phobias, indexed and alphabetized, along with information pertaining to phobia naming, and other features related to fear and anxiety (although the poster writes that his interest, primarily, is in the names, rather than in treating phobias).
Online support groups and lists provide a way to “talk” with fellow OCD sufferers and the people who care about them, all over the world. This can be a terrific option if your area doesn't offer much in the way of in-person groups, or if your schedule makes it difficult for you to make the meetings. It can also be ideal if you suffer from agoraphobia, contamination phobias, or social phobias and have not yet progressed to the point that in-person meetings make sense for you. Online support also offers the advantage of being available twenty-four hours a day every day of the week and giving you hundreds of people to talk with, as opposed to the small group you might find at an in-person meeting. (One caveat: as you probably know by now, people can sometimes behave more abruptly online than they would in person.)
As we've said, you'll want to exercise reasonable care when it comes to giving out personal information on the Web. In some cases, you may be asked to provide e-mail and other information. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
If this concerns you, then simply find sites that do not insist on gathering this information. Or contact the site administrator and ask why certain information is requested. In some cases, for instance, a birth date is required to cut down on the possibility of underage users. As long as you are over the age specification, however, you should be able to answer this question any way you like. If you're under the age limit, look for sites specifically for teens or children.
There are many books and Web sites for parents of children and teenagers who have OCD. These resources can be found all over the world. Some deal specifically with OCD, others with related disorders; some with practical issues, such as school, others with more emotional concerns, such as support. (Some are listed in Appendix A.)
Some sites may allow you to “lurk” — that is, read other users' posts without contributing yourself — even if you don't register. While not necessarily ideal, reading firsthand accounts of other peoples' experiences with OCD may help you to learn, draw emotional strength, and feel less alone.