The Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is where individuals experience ritual behaviours and compulsions in an attempt to gain control over situations that the individual perceives as dangerous or a threat. The individual often feels that these obsessions must be avoided at all costs in order to avoid the original trauma. They also have negative thoughts that become interlinked with negative emotions such as fear, panic, nervousness).

These obsessions are thoughts, doubts, pre occupations or fears that are persistent and recurring. During life events that are perceived as stressful by the individual the compulsions and rituals are likely to increase. Often people experience OCD due to biological vulnerabilities to stress and learned responses to environments.

The Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of individuals who suffer from OCD include fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt or contaminating others, fear of causing harm to yourself or others, intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images, excessive focus on religious or moral ideas, fear of losing or not having things you might need, order and symmetry, excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky, excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches, repeatedly checking in on loved ones to make sure they’re safe, counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety, spending a lot of time washing or cleaning, ordering or arranging things, praying excessively or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear and accumulating “junk” such as old newspapers or empty food containers.

The Treatment

Through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) an assessment of the individuals compulsions and rituals is established. Clients and therapists monitor the frequency and duration of their behaviours through keeping diaries. By teaching the client to make connections between their thoughts, feelings and behaviours and their link to their obsessive-compulsive disorder they are able to learn to regain control of their lives.

The main intervention used is exposure. By preventing clients from engaging in the problematic behaviours they are exposed to situations that cause the compulsive behaviours. By doing this, individuals begin to face their fears. Individuals who suffer from OCD often start therapy with uncontrollable thinking. In such incidences these thoughts then lead to further developments of thoughts and behaviours to neutralise these compulsions. Additionally, the use of role playing and re-scripting is used.

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