The effectiveness of hypnotherapy, self-help books, medication and cognitive therapy for OCD treatment

Do you fill your days with obsessive thoughts and worries or compulsive activities such as behaviours or rituals? We can help you with a review of effective OCD treatment.

Having anxiety and/or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can have a significant impact on your life – especially if your obsessions and compulsions are not properly managed throughout your lifetime.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be treated with medication, self-help books, hypnotherapy, therapy (cognitive behavioural/exposure response therapy) and a combination of all four. The problem lies in how you make a decision about which OCD treatment to choose? One of the complicating factors for OCD treatment is the fact that OCD varies in strength and symptoms.

OCD treatment needs to be tailored to your particular OCD symptoms. A psychologist can help assess your obsessions and compulsions and develop a tailored plan to overcome each and every one of them. This article will review how self-help books, cognitive/exposure response therapy, hypnotherapy and medication can help.

As OCD can vary from person to person and from episode to episode let’s begin by taking a look at what OCD looks like.

OCD treatment

What does OCD look like?

Common obsessive thoughts include:

  • Fear of contamination (e.g., by dirt, germs or other substances)
  • Fear of illness, harm or death
  • Fear of hurting the self or others (e.g., violence, fear of being responsible for something terrible happening)
  • Number obsessions (safe numbers, bad numbers etc.)
  • Symmetry or exactness obsessions (e.g., alignment, perfection etc.)
  • Obsessive sexual thoughts (e.g., incest or involving children, homosexuality or aggressive sexual behaviour)
  • Religious or moral obsessions (worry about thinking or saying something blasphemous, being consumed with always doing the right thing)

Common compulsions include:

  • Excessive washing or cleaning
  • Avoiding objects, substances or situations
  • Repetitive reassurance seeking
  • Touching/wiping
  • Counting, tapping, repeating certain words or doing senseless things to reduce anxiety
  • Checking (things are locked, turned off, that somebody isn’t hurt or sick, something bad hasn’t happened, that a mistake hasn’t been made)
  • Ordering or arranging things ‘just so’
  • Praying excessively
  • Arranging tasks in a rigid fashion
  • Repeating phrases in your mind
  • Mentally checking that something has been done
  • Accumulating ‘junk’ such as old papers

Compulsions provide temporary relief from your anxiety in the short term, however, performing compulsions reinforces the thoughts/and or anxieties theat you are trying to avoid and make them stronger in the long term.

Because you don’t learn to sit and overcome your anxiety without a compulsive ritual the anxiety is more likely to occur and you may find yourself trapped in a cycle of intrusive thoughts and compulsive rituals.

How can OCD treatment help?

While 40% of those who suffer OCD in their childhood or adolescence experience remission by early adulthood OCD is likely to develop into a chronic condition without proper treatment. Mild OCD may remit but moderate to severe levels may get worse.  Research has shown that 75 percent of people with OCD are significantly helped by cognitive behavioural therapy.

With treatment, the outlook for OCD is often very good. Research shows that a combination of medication and cognitive therapy is most effective for more severe forms of OCD you may not need medication for milder forms of OCD.

With therapy we aim to help you overcome all obsessions and compulsions, even those that are not an inconvenience to you with the aim of strengthening effective strategies to overcome anxiety rather than reinforcing your habits and compulsions which just keep you stuck!

OCD treatment can be tailored to your particular OCD symptoms, we can help assess your obsessions and compulsions and develop a tailored plan to overcome each and every one of them. This next section of this article will review how self-help books, therapy, hypnotherapy and medication can help.

Self-Help books as an OCD treatment

Self-help books are a great way to work yourself through cognitive therapy. We generally recommend them as an adjunct to therapy. To work your way through the self-help books you need to be able to dedicate time each day, read the sections complete the activities and instructions and practice the exposure exercises and refine the practice when you get stuck. A trained cognitive therapist can help support you through the process. In our experience using self-help books as an adjunct to therapy, you are able to enhance the information that you recall from therapy, see how the exercises are applied to other people and reinforce what we are delivering in therapy. One slight limitation of self-help books is that it can be difficult to find sections/books that are specific to your type of OCD, especially when there are so many variations of OCD to look at. Some people may experience a preoccupation with aggressive, religious or sexual thoughts whereas others may experience issues with hoarding or worry that they may lose things. A psychologist experienced with OCD and familiar with the self-help books can help you make a decision about the best book for you and guide you through tailoring the material to your obsessions and compulsions.

Below are some recommended OCD self-help books with links to purchase at the Book Depository!

The OCD Workbook: Your Guide To Breaking Free From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Bruce Hyman and Cherry Pedrick

Brain Lock: Free Yourself From Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior
Jeffrey Schwartz and Beverly Beyette

Overcoming Obsessive Thoughts: How to Gain Control of Your OCD
Christine Purdon, David A. Clark

Hypnotherapy as an OCD treatment

Obsessive-compulsive behaviour changes our brain chemistry and structure. With every obsession we focus on or behaviour we repeat we wire very strong pathways in our brain. The more you do something the more unconscious the learning. Eventually, we don’t even need to consciously decide to do something we are so swept away with this desire to repeat the past patterns that we find ourselves stuck. Hypnotherapy can help create unconscious change and can reinforce that which we are learning in therapy. The hypnotherapy targets the source of compulsion and uses direct suggestions to override them. Within the MP3’s are binaural beats that help relax your mind a put you into a meditative-like state, reducing activity in your adrenaline system. This will bring a sense of calmness and peace and help you to start letting go and be open to the suggestions contained within the program.  One limitation of hypnotherapy for OCD is that it really cannot be used on its own and cannot replace cognitive therapy, medication or even cognitive therapy based self-help books. Hypnotherapy is a nice supplementary activity.

Hypnosis can help you to

  • Control your thoughts
  • Influence your self-talk
  • Increase your conscious control over your emotions
  • Promote calmness and reduce your anxiety and stress

Hypnosis for OCD – Giovanni Liordi

Medication treatment for OCD

Doctors generally prescribe antidepressants (ie., clomipramine, fluoexitine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox, sertraline (Zoloft) for OCD treatment. These tend to take a few months to work and have been shown to be effective for 50% of people. The most effective way to use medication is to use it in conjunction with therapy. Medication can be particularly useful with those with moderate to severe OCD symptoms as it can help you with the cognitive behavioural/exposure response style therapy.

How can therapy help with OCD?

Treatment of OCD will often involve exposure therapy and cognitive therapy. During exposure therapy you will be encouraged to overcome your anxieties and/or obsessions without having to resort to compulsive behaviours.

OCD therapy will also involve:

  • Assessment and tracking of your OCD symptoms
  • Gradual exposure to your fears, helping you overcome them
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Ways to accept your anxiety
  • Thought-stopping techniques
  • Recognising and correcting unhelpful thinking patterns or beliefs
  • Developing alternative management strategies

During therapy you will be encouraged to complete a range of self-help reading and activities. Most people need between 16 and 24 sessions to overcome their OCD, however some people who may only be experiencing mild symptoms or more of the thought type OCD symptoms may need fewer symptoms. Read more about our OCD therapy.

Our OCD treatment Psychologists

At Aresolution we have a team of psychologists that are passionate and experienced in helping people with OCD. We have regular case management meetings to help us stay on top of the latest treatment approaches and to help us to help you more effectively.

Heidi Smith the Principal Psychologist and practice manager is passionate about helping people with OCD, Heidi encourages her team to stay on top of the OCD treatment methods so they can be best placed to help clients with this type of anxiety.

The team members best suited to help with OCD are Heidi Smith,  Megan Moussa, Unami Magwenzi , Katherine Shanhun and Laima Kuliukas.

To Make A Booking With Our OCD Therapists call us today.

To Make an Appointment Phone Today 08 6555 7786

Ph: 08 6555 7786
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