Is Exposure-Response Therapy (ERP) sinful?

I have been diagnosed with OCD and i am starting the process of Exposure-Response Therapy, a cognitive-based treatment that I believe truly could help many people. However, as a scrupulous Catholic, I’m concerned that what my therapist is asking me to do is sinful and hesitate to go completely on board. I have read numerous articles about whether it is sinful, and every one concluded that it is not. However, all of these articles were on websites that deal with OCD, and i suspect that they may be more biased and look at ERP from a scientific point of view, or at least one that does not consider God’s Will. Of course, i understand that this might be my OCD talking, yet my therapist wants me to say swear words out loud and look at paintings of naked people such as the birth of venus. I’m really struggling over whether or not i should be on board, and honestly am starting to question whether i am being negatively affected by intrusive thoughts or if im depressed because my parents aren’t taking me to mass or Confession (and i know for sure that i have committed a grave sin. I haven’t been to Confession since last June, either). The thought of wasting my parent’s money on ERP and the ERP itself doesn’t really bother me, make me anxious, or “feel” like the OCD i know has bothered me in the past. It is just something i dont want to do, because i will be in college soon and don’t want to offend God. I just want to love Him and serve Him with the proper respect He deserves- and going through with ERP definitely does not seem like the right way to go. Thoughts?

This board isn’t a good place to deal with OCD and scrupulosity. I would really recommend calling your priest. While confession has to be done in person, you can get advice over the phone or email. Are you a minor?


Yeah, after i read my post, it’s kinda more of a personal question :sweat_smile: but i will definitely talk to my priest, thank you!


Good luck and I’ll keep you in my prayers.

A lot of parishes have email now too. I’ve found that can be useful for anxiety sometimes; if you can email the priest it’s sometimes easier than calling.

Thank you, I will, too! I should’ve thought about the email idea haha


This is a question for your medical professionals and for your priest.


You need to work with a Catholic spiritual director for your scruples while you work with your therapist on your OCD.

Follow your therapists and your pastor’s guidance.

Do not post here second guessing your therapist.

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