Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive thoughts can be the most painful part of the OCD experience. While you can work to directly change behaviors (e.g., hand washing, checking the stove), unwanted and intrusive thoughts and urges (e.g., mental reviewing, doubting something feels “just right”) can remain, and even intensify as you make these shifts. I use Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), which is a gold standard treatment for OCD. ERP helps you learn to tolerate the discomfort of anxiety and obsessions without acting on them. 

 

Importantly, the work we do together is collaborative, and you get to control the pace of how the work proceeds and what targets we address through ERP. Activities we do for Response Prevention may involve interrupting the habitual ways in which you move away from the discomfort of OCD and related triggers, including how you may seek reassurance (e.g., asking others’ opinions, mentally reviewing events) and rituals in which you may engage to quiet your OCD (e.g., triple-checking that you did not leave papers near an electrical outlet, extensive washing and decontaminating procedures). Exposure activities may involve approaching situations or items that trigger your OCD (e.g., household items, loved ones, reading about related topics), writing about the stories your OCD tells you will happen if you do not listen to it, and importantly, practicing willingness to experience these activities that are uncomfortable, yet not unsafe. 

I also use mindfulness- and acceptance-based approaches like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to supercharge this work, as they help you to focus on the larger reasons you are willing to get uncomfortable and engage in the hard work of treatment (e.g., relationships, creativity, self-confidence). I can help you can learn how to become more flexible in how you respond to your OCD-based thoughts and urges and reclaim your life, instead of your OCD getting to dictate what is possible for you.

 

For more information, see the International OCD Foundation