Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive thoughts can be the most painful part of the OCD experience. While you can work to 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 the gold standard treatment for OCD. ERP helps you learn to tolerate the discomfort of anxiety and obsessions without acting on them. The incorporation of mindfulness- and acceptance-based approaches like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) 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 thoughts and urges and reclaim your life, instead of OCD getting to dictate what is possible for you.
For more information, see the International OCD Foundation
Anxiety, Panic & Phobias
Anxiety can show up in your thoughts (e.g., memories of events, worries about the future), bodily sensations (e.g., racing heart, shallow breathing, nausea), or in response to specific situations (e.g., animals, bridges, crowds). This pain is particularly pronounced when it interferes with meaningful activities, like relationships, work or school, or hobbies. We will work together to identify what you are avoiding and use exposure therapy, a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), to help you overcome your avoidance and develop greater flexibility in your responses to anxiety cues. The incorporation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) helps us to focus on meaningful behavioral change, instead of trying to control thoughts and feelings. Clients particularly enjoy ACT because it focuses on exploring values and moving towards a life of meaning, even when it may involve pain (e.g., compromise in relationships, anxiety about pursuing a new job).
For more information, see the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Avoidance of trauma-related triggers can be very painful, if not altogether impossible, as our minds are designed for survival and remembering dangerous and scary events. I can help you continue moving forward with your history as it is, instead of pursuing a futile agenda of trying to forget, or minimize, what happened in your past. I do this work using Prolonged Exposure (PE), which is a gold standard treatment for PTSD. PE involves learning that trauma-related symptoms and triggers are uncomfortable, and not unsafe. In this therapy, we will talk about the traumatic event in a safe and supportive therapeutic space to change your relationship to the memory of the event. Further, we will identify behaviors that are important to you, and that that are being avoided due to possible triggers (e.g., being in crowds, certain smells or songs), and help you safely reengage in them. Together, we can help you live a life that is more flexible and free, instead of one defined by avoidance of memories and triggers.
For more information, see the National Center for PTSD
Skin Picking & Hair Pulling
Skin picking and hair pulling can be isolating and embarrassing experiences. It is likely that you have tried many times to stop engaging in picking or pulling, and even had success for days or weeks at a time before the cycle started up again. I can help you develop a new, more thorough, plan to help break this pattern and build your confidence in being able to “surf” the urges to pick or pull. The Comprehensive Model for Behavioral Treatment (ComB) is effective in addressing these behaviors, and involves identifying your triggers, including situations in which you are most likely to pick or pull, sensory cues (e.g., running your fingers over your skin or hair) and related intrusive thoughts. We then develop and try out alternative responses (e.g., situational changes, competing behaviors) and track the effectiveness of this approach. Together, we can develop a sustainable plan to help you live the life you want, without being limited by your picking and pulling.
For an article in which I was interviewed about my work with BFRBs and the impact of them on relationships and intimacy, see this article on Giddy
For more information, see the TLC Foundation