Experiencing unwanted, distressing thoughts, images, and urges is a universal human experience. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) evolves when an individual responds with urgency to these automatic internal experiences with physical or mental actions intended to get rid of or reverse them. This natural response unfortunately gives power to these thoughts, images, and urges and results in a vicious cycle of obsessive thought patterns and compulsive, rigid behaviors.
Common obsessive themes include contamination, harm to self or others, health, relationships, religion/morality, superstitions, or the feeling something is incomplete or “wrong.”
Common compulsions include cleaning, checking, rereading/rewriting, counting, arranging, hoarding, engaging in superstitious or ritualistic behaviors, reassurance seeking, confessing, touching/tapping, list making, avoiding, mental reasoning, and repeating something until it feels “just right.”
If you have obsessions and compulsions that are distressing, time-consuming, and interfering with your life, then therapy for OCD may be appropriate for you.
The gold standard treatment for OCD for children, adolescents, and adults is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), specifically Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), with or without medication. ERP involves purposefully and systematically facing one’s distressing thoughts, images, and urges and responding to them in a way that disarms them and reduces their frequency, intensity and impact. At PAC clients develop a thorough understanding of ERP and their OCD prior to engaging in ERP at their pace. Additionally, PAC incorporates Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help clients increase self-compassion and value-driven behavior on their path to recovery.
When a loved one is suffering with OCD and is not yet motivated to engage in therapy, treatment options still exist for the family. Family members can learn about their unintentional role in fueling OCD and how they can model calm responses and reduce accommodation behaviors (behaviors a family engages in that they wouldn’t if OCD wasn’t present).
Read more about OCD and its treatments (including ERP, ACT, family accommodation, and medication) at: