BACKGROUND: Watching videotaped personal compulsions together with a therapist might enhance the effect of cognitive–behavioural therapy in obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) but little is known about how patients experience this. AIMS: To performed a qualitative study that describes how watching these videos influences motivation for treatment and whether patients report any adverse events. METHOD: In this qualitative study, data were gathered in semi-structured interviews with 24 patients with OCD. The transcripts were coded by two researchers. They used a combination of open and thematic coding and discrepancies in coding were discussed. RESULTS: The experience of watching videos with personal compulsions helped patients to realise that these compulsions are aberrant and irrational. Patients report increased motivation to resist their OCD and to adhere to therapy. No adverse events were reported. CONCLUSIONS: Videos with personal compulsions create more awareness in patients with OCD that compulsions are irrational, leading to enhanced motivation for treatment. DECLARATION OF INTEREST: None.