Treatment for OCD
It's more than just wanting things a particular way. OCD is not a thing to adopt as an excuse for wanting something done well or clearly. You may have heard people (or even said yourself) "I'm just OCD about that", or "it's because of my OCD". But, that doesn't actually speak to the problem we want to help people with in OCD treatment.
What is OCD?
Many people view obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as a “quirky” disorder involving liking
things to be organized in a certain way or washing one’s hands too often, but OCD can take on
a number of forms. These include fears about harming oneself or others, feeling things are not
“just right,” or feeling overly concerned about having done something immoral or in violation of
one’s religious beliefs (scrupulosity), among numerous other subtypes.
OCD is primarily characterized by:
Intrusive thoughts or images (obsessions)
Thoughts that are repetitive, difficult to control, and cause distress or anxiety
Repetitive behaviors (compulsions) designed to decrease the anxiety that comes from obsessions
OCD manifests in a variety of forms
There is no one-size-fits-all obsessive-compulsive disorder pattern.
Common obsessions include:
Fears about contamination
Fears about harm
Concerns about one’s relationship
Getting stuck on things not being symmetrical or feeling “just right”
Common compulsions include:
For example, someone whose OCD centers around the fear of harming others may get stuck on the
obsession that they ran someone over while driving their car. This thought results in intense
anxiety and the thought is difficult to shake. This person’s compulsion may manifest in them
driving back to the spot where they thought they hit someone to check if they did actually hit
someone. For some, checking once may be enough, however, for people with OCD, they may
drive back repeatedly to check. Once they feel reassured, their anxiety will drop temporally.
However, this checking then strengthens the obsession and the need to engage in compulsions.
While we all experience intrusive thoughts at different points in our lives, individuals with OCD
become “stuck,” and end up in a loop that feeds into their OCD symptoms.
There is a treatment for OCD
Treatment for OCD can be difficult, but is effective! While there are many treatments, the gold
standard is called exposure and response prevention (E/RP). This involved a number of
components designed to break the relationships described in the OCD cycle diagram above.
Components of therapy for OCD include:
Creating a list of anxiety-provoking obsessions
Rating them from 1-100 according to the distress they cause
Committing to refraining from compulsions as much as possible
Engaging in exposure exercises in session and outside of session in which one is
intentionally exposed to the anxiety-provoking situation
Exposure exercises can be:
o Imaginal: An example for the person afraid they hit someone with their car could be picturing a scenario in which this actually happens
o In vivo: For someone whose fears are about contamination, they may expose themselves by not washing their hands after coming into contact with something that results in anxiety
How does OCD treatment work?
While treatment for OCD may seem counterintuitive and
uncomfortable, it works in two ways:
By repeatedly exposing oneself to situations that make
them anxious, while not engaging in compulsions,
one eventually gets used to the situation without having
such a heightened stress response.
Exposing oneself without engaging in compulsions,
and then finding out that what we were afraid of does not
actually happen, helps our brains understand
that we do not need to do the compulsion to keep
what we were afraid of from happening.
Begin Treatment for OCD in Madison, WI
When you are ready to start OCD treatment, we are here for you. We know that getting started with a new therapist can itself be a source of stress and worry, so we make it simple! Our Madison, WI-based therapists can even help you anywhere in the state with online therapy in Wisconsin. To get started, just follow these three steps:
Call our office at 608-571-0558 or e-mail us to make an appointment
Start your journey to a more joyful life today
More Mental Health Services at Golden Vibes Counseling Center
At our Madison, WI therapy clinic, we want you to feel comfortable. We know you are a multi-faceted person with a wide range of needs and concerns. That's why we have a lot of different ways to serve you. From therapy in our chic, contemporary counseling space to expert online counseling in Wisconsin, we are ready to meet you where you are. Our professional therapists can help you using a variety of approaches including CBT, EMDR, and Brainspotting. These methods can help with sexual assault recovery, depression treatment, anxiety therapy, reproductive or maternal mental health, multicultural counseling, and more. We also specialize in LGBTQAI+ counseling and poly-affirming therapies and can assist with gender-affirming care. We truly look forward to meeting you and getting to know you as an individual.