Overcoming Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with OCD therapy
With focused therapy and support people with OCD can recover. Many of our clients are either young people who seek therapy with the support of their parents or people who have had OCD for years and have tried other methods or approaches without much success.
When clients come for treatment with OCD we ensure that therapy is initially very focused on helping you relieve your symptoms through CBT exposure response therapy.
OCD therapy is an effective way to overcome OCD.
What is OCD?
OCD is characterised by persistent thoughts, ideas, images, doubts or impulses (obsessions) that are experienced as disturbing, along with repetitive behaviour or mental rituals (compulsions) aimed at reducing anxiety.
OCD is not just about checking, cleaning or being neat and tidy. Some people with OCD may be worried about hurting others, doing something they don’t want to, counting things or needing reassurance.
What does OCD look like?
Common obsessive thoughts include:
- Fear of contamination (e.g., by dirt, germs or other things)
- 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
- 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 they you 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.
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!
When should you start OCD treatment?
You should seek an assessment with an experienced OCD psychologist as soon as you notice the symptoms of OCD. Even if the symptoms are not taking up much of your time untreated OCD may increase in the long term and it is easier to treat before it becomes debilitating.
How can you treat OCD?
Moderate or severe symptoms of OCD may need a combination of medication and therapy. The most effective treatments for OCD involve a combination of medication and exposure response therapy (a form of cognitive behavioural therapy). Medication can be useful if your symptoms are very severe or overwhelming. Medication alone cannot change longstanding habits or your approacg around how to deal with the things that scare you. The most effective application of medication in OCD treatment is that it makes it easier for you to do the therapy.
In Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP), you learn to face your thoughts and to build up a tolerance to them — both the anxiety the thoughts produce and the uncertainty that goes along with them.
How can OCD therapy help?
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 (e.g., creating recordings, reading post it notes with fears, watching videos/tv, agreeing with the thoughts, touching fears etc)
- 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. Remember, these activities will be tailored to the individual’s specific obsessions and developed in collaboration with a qualified mental health professional experienced in exposure therapy. The therapist will provide guidance, monitor progress, problem solve your application and ensure the activities are appropriate and safe for the individual.
Providing OCD Treatment for Clients Across Perth
Our therapists work on OCD treatment with children and adults across Perth, Applecross and Fremantle. To make an appointment, reach out to our friendly team.