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Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie

Research group Külz

"Internet-based therapy (iCBT) in obsessive compulsive disorder – acceptance and effectiveness"

Despite the high prevalence of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and its accompanying individual and socioeconomic burden, the vast majority of those affected does not receive adequate treatment. Apart from shortages in the health care system, inadequate qualifications of therapists regarding disorder-specific treatment strategies as well as restrictions caused by the patients' shame and their disease play an important role. Internet-based psychotherapy may remedy this situation by addressing the everyday living environment of the patient and offering relatively low-threshold assistance from qualified therapists by means of a time-economic and cost-effective alternative to conventional face-to-face therapy.

This research project aimed at implementing an Internet-based psychotherapy with therapeutic interaction based on cognitive-behavioral manuals, particularly including the technique of exposure with response management. We tested the hypotheses that Internet-based psychotherapy for OCD is well accepted by the patients and results in a clinically significant reduction in OC symptomatology, which is sustained at 6- and 12-months follow up.

In a randomized study, thirty-four patients with OCD (Intention-to-Treat-Sample) were treated disorder-specifically with Internet-based psychotherapy, consisting of 14 sessions in each case. In a within-subject design all participants received the psychological treatment. Participants were assigned randomly to the treatment or the waiting list control group.

Preliminary analyses using established instruments for detailed process and outcome diagnosis show improvement of OC symptoms with effect sizes within the large range. A follow-up project is planned to compare the effects of our Internet-based intervention in OCD with a self-help program and conventional face-to-face therapy.

Project Members

  • Dr. Anne Katrin Külz (PI)
  • Prof. Ulrich Voderholzer, Prien am Chiemsee (Co-PI)
  • Dipl. Psych. Nirmal Herbst

  • Dipl. Psych. Nicola Thiel
  • Dipl. Psych. Elisabeth Hertenstein
  • Psych. (B.Sc) Ronja Schaub


  • Prof. Christine Knaevelsrud, Berlin

Selected publications

Herbst N, Voderholzer U, Stelzer N, Knaevelsrud C, Hertenstein E, Schlegl S, Nissen C, Külz AK. (2012). The potential of telemental health applications for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Clinical Psychology Review, 32, 454-466.

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