WHAT IS OCD?
OCD means that you spend a significant portion of your time and effort worrying. Obsessions are recurrent, haunting thoughts that cause you uneasiness or worry like fearing your apartment will burn down or you’ll accidentally blurt out a racial slur. Compulsions are behaviors that you feel compelled to do like checking to make sure the oven is turned off or saying a special phrase to reassure yourself. Everyone does these things from time to time but people with OCD often feel that these thoughts and behaviors take over their lives.
Some subtypes include:
Washers – afraid of contamination; tend to repeatedly clean themselves or their surroundings
Checkers – repeatedly check to make sure everything is safe including checking that the door is locked or that nothing offensive was accidentally said
Wrong-doers – afraid that if everything isn’t done just so that something terrible will happen or they will be punished
Counters and arrangers – preoccupied with order and symmetry; may have superstitions about certain numbers, symbols, or words
Hoarders – fear that something bad will happen if they ever throw anything away so they keep unneeded belongings
“I FEEL LIKE I’M CRAZY”
OCD can feel overpowering and confusing. However, you are not crazy. It’s a common illness. More than two percent of the world and 3 million people in the United States suffer from OCD.
OCD is a neurobiological illness that causes the threat-detection centers in your brain to be overactive, leading you to perceive danger and discomfort when there is none. These are the same mechanisms that allow you to respond effectively to real life danger like moving out of the way of an oncoming car. In OCD, these brain structures get over excited, making your brain think that it needs to keep you safe when you are exposed to germs, impure thoughts, or disorder.
OCD CAN GET BETTER
The most effective treatment for OCD is Cognitive Behavior Therapy focusing on Exposure and Response Prevention. With this approach, I can help you to identify obsessive thoughts, replace compulsions with healthy coping skills, and teach you to tolerate your distress so it stops taking over your life. Together, I can teach you to confront your obsessive thoughts while reducing your urge to do compulsions giving you greater power over your OCD.
As an expert in the treatment of OCD, I know that recovery is possible. I can help you better understand your OCD and teach you to become an expert in your own treatment. I will teach you healthy coping skills; you can learn to notice your inaccurate, triggering thoughts and replace them with healthier thinking. I can teach you to be an observer of your own thoughts and emotions so that you are able to watch the patterns of your mind without being sucked down into them. It may seem impossible now, but the need to perform compulsions and the repetition of obsessive thoughts will reduce, and even disappear, over time.
We will work at a pace that feels comfortable for you, teaching you to feel like you are in the driver’s seat of your mind. By gradually confronting obsessive thoughts and minimizing your need to do compulsions we can retrain your mind to tolerate OCD, giving you a more meaningful, enjoyable life.
“DOES GETTING HELP MEAN THAT OCD ‘WINS’?”
You may think that you can just “snap out” of your obsessive thinking and repetitive rituals, but for most people it is not that easy. You can’t snap out of it because you didn’t snap into it. OCD is a brain condition that usually requires the help of an expert to get better.
Asking for help from a professional is not admitting defeat; quite the opposite is true! If you are considering therapy you are probably fed up with how much OCD invades your life and you are ready to make a change. This is a positive step! By committing to recovery, you win – because you can foster a more meaningful, peaceful, successful life, free from the torment of OCD.
“I’M WORRIED THAT I CAN’T HANDLE EXPOSURES”
OCD is a bully. It tells you that you can’t tolerate the distress of exposures but it’s lying to you. Exposures are stressful but you can definitely handle them. We will always perform exposures at the pace that is best for you. You may find it exciting to challenge yourself, to find that you are more capable than you thought. We will teach you healthy coping skills for when exposures get difficult and you will always have my support as you challenge your OCD and reclaim your life.
THERAPY CAN HELP
You can overcome OCD and live a more fulfilling life; you just need the right tools. Feel free to contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation. During that time I can answer any questions you may have, discuss initial goals, and determine if I am the right fit for your work.
Read more about the myths and truths of OCD here.