Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a debilitating and common type of anxiety disorder. TheĀ Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that one out of every 40 adults in the U.S. is affected by OCD. People who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder may engage in repetitive behaviors to ease anxiety or suppress intrusive thoughts. While this disorder can feel overwhelming, it is treatable. Successfully treating obsessive compulsive disorder with therapy is possible with the right therapeutic approaches.

Treating obsessive compulsive disorder with therapy

Health care providers use psychological therapy as an effective method to reduce the intensity and frequency of the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Therapy can help people to change their thoughts and/or behaviors to provide relief from the symptoms they experience.

Behavioral and cognitive therapeutic approaches for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder may be more effective than medication alone. When doing so is appropriate, cognitive and behavioral therapy may be combined with anxiety medications to achieve the best result.

Cognitive Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

An effective therapeutic approach for obsessive compulsive disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT helps people to change the thought or cognitive distortions that initiate harmful compulsions and obsessions.

If you have OCD, you might overestimate your responsibility for a potentially negative event and believe that you must take steps to prevent it from happening. For example, you might feel compelled to count to prevent a car accident even though doing so will not have any effect on whether a car accident occurs or not.

When you undergo CBT, your negative thought patterns will be identified and examined. Your therapist will help you to come up with alternatives that are less threatening and more realistic. CBT also incorporates elements of behavioral therapy. Your therapist might ask you to try some of the alternatives you have identified by using exposure therapy.

Behavioral therapy for treating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Most behavioral therapies that are used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder focus on exposing people to the things that they most fear. By being exposed to what you are afraid of, you will have the opportunity to learn new information to help you to disconfirm your fears.

Exposure and response prevention therapy is a highly effective type of behavioral therapy for treating obsessive compulsive disorder. When your therapist incorporates ERP into her therapeutic approach, you will be exposed to the anxiety producing experience underlying your obsessions. You will then be prevented from using rituals to lessen your anxiety. The cycle of exposure followed by response prevention will be repeated until you no longer experience your obsessions and compulsions.

ERP may be performed over multiple sessions in your therapist’s office. You might also be asked to practice it at home. Your therapist may use a gradual approach to introduce the event or object incrementally before increasing your exposure. The goal of ERP is to help you to extinguish your obsession and the compulsive behaviors that accompany it.

Get help from a psychologist at South Orange County Counseling

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be highly disruptive to your life. However, you do not have to suffer alone. Treating obsessive compulsive disorder with therapy is effective and can help you break free from your OCD symptoms. Dr. Piper Walsh, Ph.D. is a compassionate and dedicated clinical psychologist who is prepared to help you. Contact Orange County Counseling today to schedule an appointment and learn about the help we can provide by calling us at (949)370-4726.