Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder & Treatment
According to the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF), approximately 2 to 3 million adults currently have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), as do approximately 500,000 children and adolescents. The description below includes a brief overview of OCD and the specific type of treatment I am able to provide for people with OCD. This information is provided for informational purposes only to help you better understand OCD, but is not to be used in place of a professional assessment and diagnosis.
Please note, it is common for people to suffer from multiple disorders, such as OCD and a depressive disorder. If you feel you may be suffering from a mental health issue and are ready to get help, or even if you’re unsure if you need help and just want more information, please contact me today. If you are experiencing a psychiatric emergency, meaning likely to harm yourself or others, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
What is OCD?
OCD occurs when people experience obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions are often experienced as intrusive, recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that cause significant anxiety or distress for most people. People with OCD often try to ignore or suppress their obsessions, or, try to “neutralize” them with another thought or action (i.e., a compulsion). Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that people feel like they have to perform because of their obsession or based on some set of rules they have created. The purpose of the compulsions are to decrease anxiety or prevent another dreaded outcome (e.g., “If I don’t check the locks 5 times, someone might break in”). However, the compulsions are often either excessive or not realistically connected to what they are designed to prevent (e.g., “If I put my cup down in this spot only, it will prevent my loved ones from getting sick”). Furthermore, the obsessions and/or compulsions are time-consuming and may cause impairment in school, work, relationships, etc. Unfortunately, some people tend to erroneously only label OCD after observing the more explicit compulsive behaviors (e.g., repetitive hand washing, checking locks, constantly cleaning, etc.); however, many people with OCD have what is referred to as “pure O,” or purely obsessional OCD. In these cases, the compulsive acts occur as hidden mental rituals, such as un-doing or re-doing certain actions in your mind or constantly seeking reassurance (e.g., researching things online to decrease anxiety, getting reassurance from others to feel better and decrease anxiety, etc.). "Pure O" OCD is a bit of a misnomer, as the compulsive behaviors are still very much present, just less overt, which can sometimes lead to misdiagnoses (e.g., with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc.). OCD can present in many different forms, often acting as a "shape shifter," with themes changing over time. Themes of intrusive thoughts can range anywhere from harm to oneself or others, to, fixating on one's relationship or various moral issues. To learn more about OCD, please visit the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) website by clicking on the following link: International OCD Foundation
I treat OCD with exposure and response prevention (ERP), a specific type of CBT treatment, which is considered the "gold standard" evidence-based treatment for OCD. This treatment involves gradually facing the anxiety-producing thoughts, images, objects, or situations related to one’s obsessions, while working toward not engaging in the behavior (i.e., compulsion), which leads to a reduction of anxiety symptoms over time as you learn to cope more effectively.
I provide both individual and group therapy to treat OCD using ERP. There are various pros and cons (e.g., cost, other participants, etc.) that may impact your decision to begin either individual or group therapy, so please contact me with any questions you may have.