“Surviving and Thriving” – Speakers and Attendees Share Victories Over OCD

Teens and adults, family members, friends and professional treatment providers – 129 attendees – met for the quarterly meeting and conference of OCD TEXAS in Grapevine, Texas, to share information and strategies, and to offer hope a “ray of hope” for people with OCD. The full-day event was held at the Palace Arts Theater in Grapevine, Texas, on Saturday, February 11, 2012. The theme of the conference was: “Surviving and Thriving: Sharing Victories Over OCD”.

Keynote Speaker:
Ray St. John, 18-year-old author of The Ray of Hope: A Teenager’s Fight Against Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, gave a moving account of how he overcame severely distressing and debilitating OCD symptoms so that he is now living a largely symptom-free life of a college student.

Ray’s symptoms began when he was five years old, then worsened during his teen years and became mainly sexual in nature. With the help of this mother, Joni St. John, Ray beat back his OCD with intensive sessions using exposure and response prevention (ERP) strategies. Although his mother originally had to pay him to do the treatment, he agreed to do exposure exercises under her direction during school breaks, and their method worked. By the time he was a senior in high school, his symptoms had become negligible and his life had returned to normal.

Ray decided to write his book to help other adolescents who suffer from OCD. His keynote address was the first time he had spoken in public for more than a few minutes. He received a standing ovation from the audience which included a number of teens who then spoke on a special teen panel later in the day.

Speakers and Panels:
“OCD 101” an introductory overview of OCD, was offered by John Hart, PhD, who currently provides OCD treatment in Houston and serves as Co-Director of the Houston OCD Program. He is also the current Professional Development and Research Coordinator for OCD TEXAS.

Adolescent and pediatric psychiatrist Roger Robinson, MD spoke on “Medication Options for OCD”.

An “Ask The Experts” panel, Including Peggy McMahon, PhD, and Mary Kathleen Norris, LPC, from the Dallas area, Irene Tobis, PhD, from Austin, John Hart, PhD, from Houston, and Jay Jeter, LPC-S from New Braunfels, answered questions from the audience on a variety of topics.

A highlight of the day was a panel of 8 teenagers who spoke about their experiences with OCD. They spoke of how and when their OCD symptoms began, and of their experiences of improving through with professional treatment.

A panel of 6 adults also spoke about their experiences with OCD and their experiences of treatment. Both the teen and adult panelists spoke of the importance of their family’s support in their recovery. They offered advice to others with OCD, including working hard at exposure-and-response-prevention (ERP) treatment, as well as other strategies such as mindfulness training.

Support Groups:
Special peer support groups met at the end of the conference day. One group included facilitators of local support groups around Texas, as well as people interested in starting OCD support groups in their local areas. OCD TEXAS supports local support groups through meetings such as this one, networking with other support groups, and listing on the Support Groups page on our website

Sponsors:
OCD TEXAS is very grateful to our sponsors for their generous donations which helped make this meeting possible.

  • Platinum Sponsor: Ken & Neil Goldberg of Gold Metal Recyclers
  • Gold Sponsor: Houston OCD Program
  • Bronze Sponsor: Peace of Mind Foundation and OCD Challenge

Dr. Arlene Jacobs & Allen Feltman
Kim Rockwell-Evans, PhDLPC, LMFT.

Officers and Volunteers:
OCD TEXAS thanks Robert Norris and Mary Kathleen Norris, Meeting Coordinators, for the great job, as well as the officers and the many volunteers who worked so hard and well to make this meeting a success.

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