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CBT Therapy And OCD

Jun 17, 2008
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety related disorder that can have severe impacts on the everyday functioning of those with this disorder affecting them in life areas such as self-care, leisure and work. OCD is a fairly common disorder that effects people from various cultural and social backgrounds. It also affects people of all ages from children to adults.

At my CBT therapy practice, Edinburgh, people with varying forms of OCD account for 50% of my caseload of clients. Some of my clients also have support from NHS Community Mental Health Teams. However, often people come to see me who have been struggling for many years with OCD, with little or no support.

Most people, especially in times of stress, may have experienced OCD-type symptoms such as doubting you have turned off the oven or locked the door. However, for those with OCD, persistent doubts, urges or images are much more frequent, intrusive and distressing and can really lead to a reduced quality of life and disruption in occupational performance. For some the distress of living with OCD can also lead to depression.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is considered to be the therapy of choice for OCD, with research studies backing its effectiveness. CBT is a short term and structured psychological therapy that looks at the relationship between what we think, what we feel and how we respond. CBT is a combination of cognitive therapy, which examines cognitive processes such as unwanted thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs and behavioural therapy, which focuses on behaviour in response to those thoughts.

For example, a person with OCD may experience an unpleasant intrusive thought. Sometimes, although not always, the person with OCD may feel compelled to engage in a less than rational, compulsive behavior or mental ritual in a bid to reduce the anxiety associated with the thought. For example, excessive checking of door locks, washing of hands to avoid contamination or mental ritual of some kind. These very acts, which the person with OCD uses to cope with or reduce their OCD anxiety, in fact keep OCD going.

At my CBT therapy practice, near Edinburgh, the aim is to helps the person with OCD understand that by resisting the compulsive urge to check the locks, wash hands or mentally ritualize, they can eventually "sit out" their anxiety until the anxiety level naturally diminishes and fades over time. This is a technique known in CBT as exposure and response prevention. This technique helps OCD get better.

The treatment of OCD at my CBT therapy practice Edinburgh, also involves other techniques and methods such as equipping the person with relaxation and mindfulness skills, which are both very useful in managing OCD. Time is also given to helping the person set goals to begin re-engaging in life activities, which are important to them, if OCD has led to disruption in life roles.

In the cases of more severe OCD, medication can also be useful, therefore if you feel you may have OCD you should visit your GP for further information.
About the Author
Karen Hastings is a NHS experienced mental health occupational therapist, Master NLP practitioner and hypnotherapist. Karen uses CBT, NLP and hypnotherapy in Edinburgh, Scotland. visit http://www.karenhastings.co.uk
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