Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a debilitating psychological disorder characterized by the presence of obsessions (intrusive, repetitive, and distressing thoughts or images) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors intended to protect against or neutralize obsessions). OCD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, and research estimates that 2.3% of the U.S. adult population meets diagnostic criteria for OCD in their lifetime.
Common types of OCD obsessions include contamination/cleanliness, violence towards self or others, taboo or unwanted sexuality, and morality/religion/scrupulosity. People suffering from OCD are often afraid or disgusted by these thoughts. Seeking treatment can seem especially difficult, since asking for help means acknowledging having these upsetting thoughts. Those with OCD are attempting to suppress these thoughts or prevent them from coming true through their compulsions/rituals. Unfortunately, this pattern of fearing and attempting to suppress obsessive thoughts only fuels them. Common compulsions include repetitive washing or cleaning, checking something over and over (e.g., whether the door is locked or stove turned off), counting to a specific number, arranging objects in particular patterns, or saying a prayer.
What are the Symptoms of OCD?
Everyone has upsetting thoughts and will likely do one or several of the above compulsions from time to time. However, for someone with OCD, upsetting thoughts get stuck in mind longer and recur more frequently, and specific compulsions/rituals are engaged in excessively. Individuals often feel plagued by these distressing thoughts, and as if they have no choice but to keep ritualizing to cope. Luckily, there are evidence-based treatments that can help reduce symptoms of OCD and get you back to living your life.
First line treatments for OCD include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), medication, and combined CBT + medication treatment. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP or ExRP) is the type of CBT tailored to treating OCD. Using ERP, therapists help clients with OCD confront their OCD fears (exposure) without engaging in compulsions (response prevention) to help them get better. Pharmacotherapy using Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) has also been shown to be effective either instead or in addition to ERP.
The therapists at Foothills CBT specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy, and, specifically, exposure and response prevention for obsessive compulsive disorder. Contact us today, we can help.