Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Counseling

The What the Why and the How?

Very simply OCD is a disorder that can affect anyone and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are the behaviors an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and or decrease his or her distress. Everyone has experienced obsessive thoughts and behaviors but most of us can let them go easier and they don’t impact our lives. A sample of some common obsessions as follows: fear of contamination (germs, diseases, dirt etc.), losing control (acting impulsively, harm to others, blurting things out, horrific images), harm (causing a fire, running over someone, causing an accident), perfectionism (exactness, losing things, forgetting important details, needing to remember everything.

Common compulsive behaviors are as follows: Washing and cleaning (hand washing, showering, bathing, routine, grooming, cleaning of household), Checking (doors are locked, windows, homework, to see if something terrible happened, checking texts, reassurance from others), repeating (rereading, rewriting, tapping, in and out of doors, stairs, body movements, touching things, doing tasks in sets of three, or even/odd.

Once again, the above examples are common, but most clients have unique OCD behaviors that can be very disturbing and embarrassing to discuss and admit. Once you have a better understanding of what thoughts or behaviors are OCD it often gives one a sense of relief.

Why people suffer from OCD is not entirely understood at this time but most research points to problem in communication between the front of our brains and deeper structures in the brain. These areas use transmitters or messengers called serotonin. OCD does also run in the family so genetics often play a role whether one suffers from this disorder.

How is OCD treated are what are the steps in getting treated properly? The good news is that OCD is a disorder that has extensive research in treatment protocols and large advances have taken place in the last 30 years. A combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure response therapy and medications have yielded extremely effective results. Progress in often seen quite quickly. Medications are not always need in certain cases and clients are able to learn a whole host of skills and methods to take control of this disorder. A very common technique is exposure response therapy where the client works in tandem with the therapist to create exercises to confront these individual obsessive thoughts and behaviors and systematically eliminate them. A simple assessment is often given at the beginning of treatment to determine the severity and type of OCD a client is experiencing. In Short, OCD is very treatable.