Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a common, chronic disorder in which a person is caught in a vicious cycle of unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges that cause anxiety or distress (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over in attempts to decrease the distress caused by the obsessions or to prevent some dreaded event or situation. However, these behaviors are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize or prevent, or they are clearly excessive.

Common obsessions include:

  • Contamination obsessions
  • Harm obsessions
  • Religious obsessions (Scrupulosity)
  • Unwanted sexual thoughts
  • Obsessions related to perfectionism or things being “just right”

    Common compulsions include:

  • Washing and cleaning rituals
  • Mental rituals
  • Checking rituals
  • Repeating behaviors for a certain number or times or until it feels “just right”
  • Individuals with OCD also frequently engage in avoidance and reassurance seeking in addition to compulsions in attempts to neutralize their obsessions. In the short term, the compulsions often work to reduce anxiety and distress. However, they require more and more time and energy, getting in the way of important activities the individual values and can also negatively impact important relationships. Over time, compulsions reinforce obsessions rather than reduce them, and so the individual feels compelled to spend more time and energy on them.

    Treatment Process

    Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is the gold standard therapy for treating OCD. I completed the Behavior Therapy Training Institute (BTTI) through the International OCD Foundation in 2017 and have effectively used ERP to help clients with OCD reclaim their lives and take back what OCD has stolen.