Can mindfulness training treat OCD?


Hi Dr. Debra,

I came across your website as I was looking for information on mindfulness. Thank you very much for the wonderful site and information. I just a quick question for you regarding mindfulness and how it pertains to OCD. 
I have OCD myself and started using the Headspace app awhile ago. Everything was going really great and I was noticing some  results initially. I was getting much better at letting intrusive thoughts come and go as I wasn’t judging myself for having them (I have a type of ocd regarding sexuality - and tend to check myself for actions whether or not I found an experience desirable or not). I particularly found it helpful when I was directed to simply note the experience “thinking” or “feeling”. 

Things changed and my meditation practise was derailed when the Headspace app then promoted me to note wether or not the thought or feeling was “pleasant”, “unpleasant” or “neutral”. It has set of a whole bunch of anxiety in that I am now finding myself checking every experience or thought/feeling to see if it was pleasant or unpleasant. I thought the whole point of mindfulness was to just let thoughts come and go, note them as thinking or feeling but not to judge your thoughts or evaluate them. 

I was wondering if you could shed any light if this practice of noting your experiences or thoughts as “pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral” is not effective for OCD? I am just hoping to get back to being able to practice  mindfulness with out OCD’ing on weather or not I’m doing it right. 

Any insight you have would be wonderful and I would appreciate it!!


This idea of noting if pleasant or pleasant can be helpful in mindfully noting all stimuli whether positive or negative but I would consider this skill too advanced if you are struggling with OCD symptoms. This would be more AP mindfulness and I would for now stick with the basics of noting what shows up and then without judgment returning back to the present moment.