There are many myths that perpetuate the misunderstanding of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Often times, individuals confuse a desire to be neat, clean or organized with obsessions and compulsions. Jennifer Welbel, LPC, staff therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University and leader of the support group The Anxiety Network, is available to provide insights on the pervasive cultural myths surrounding OCD, as well as what the diagnosis actually entails and how it impacts individuals’ lives.

“It is not uncommon to hear things like, ‘I have OCD because I like things to be organized and neat’ or ‘I have OCD because I’m a perfectionist,’” says Ms. Welbel. “However, in order to be diagnosed with OCD, an individual must have obsessions and/or compulsions.” She continues, “It is important to note that it is not uncommon for many individuals to have specific rituals or routines. However, the problem arises, and a diagnosis of OCD considered, when they start interfering in an individual’s life, causing the individual significant anxiety.”

Ms. Welbel, who specializes in using cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and exposure therapies (ERP) to treat children, adolescents, and adults with obsessive-compulsive and related disorders at The Family Institute’s Anxiety and Panic Treatment Program, says that these myths and misunderstandings have consequences. “For example, when individuals say, ‘I am so OCD about my room being clean’ or ‘She is so OCD about her grades,’ it significantly diminishes the severity of the disorder and contributes to the misconceptions about OCD. It also stigmatizes the disorder and, for some individuals, makes it more challenging to seek out help.”

Ms. Welbel is available to discuss the nuances of OCD and Anxiety Disorders, how they impact individuals, and how myths surrounding these issues further stigmatize and complicate the diagnosis.

To speak to Ms. Welbel, or to learn more about The Anxiety Network or The Family Institute, contact Colleen O’Connor, Content & Grant Manager at The Family Institute at Northwestern University at [email protected], or 312-609-5300 ext. 485. Learn more about The Family Institute online at

ABOUT THE FAMILY INSTITUTE AT NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY – For 45 years, The Family Institute at Northwestern University ( has been committed to strengthening and healing families from all walks of life through clinical service, education and research. An affiliate of Northwestern University, The Family Institute is a unique, innovative not-for-profit organization, governed by its own independent Board of Directors and responsible for its own funding. The Institute offers a wide range of high quality mental health counseling through our staff practice and our sliding-fee scale Bette D. Harris Family and Child Clinic, where we are committed to serving at-risk, under-resourced communities. The Family Institute also operates two nationally-renowned graduate programs in marriage and family therapy and counseling psychology in affiliation with Northwestern University, and conducts cutting edge research projects that lead to a better understanding and treatment of mental health issues.