OCD Therapy


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition characterized by persistent, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions). These obsessions can cause significant distress, anxiety, and disruption in a person’s daily life. Compulsions are often performed as a way to alleviate the distress caused by the obsessions, even though they are usually excessive and unrealistic.

Treatment for OCD primarily involves a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). This therapy aims to help individuals confront their fears and obsessions while gradually reducing their reliance on compulsive behaviors. Here’s how it typically works:

  • Psychoeducation: The therapist helps the individual understand what OCD is, how it works, and the cycle of obsessions and compulsions.
  • Creating an Exposure Hierarchy: The therapist and individual work together to create a list of situations or triggers that provoke anxiety or obsessions. These are ranked from least distressing to most distressing.
  • Exposure: The person is exposed to the situations or triggers on the hierarchy one at a time, starting with the least distressing. They are encouraged to stay in these situations without engaging in their usual compulsive behaviors. This helps them confront their fears and realize that the anxiety will decrease over time.
  • Response Prevention: During exposures, the person is also asked to refrain from performing compulsions or rituals. This prevents the cycle of anxiety relief that usually follows the compulsions.
  • Gradual Progression: As the individual becomes more comfortable with each level of exposure, they move up the hierarchy to more distressing situations. This helps them build confidence in managing their anxiety without resorting to compulsions.

Improvements with therapy can be substantial. Through ERP therapy, individuals with OCD can experience:

  • Reduced Anxiety: By facing their fears without engaging in compulsions, people gradually learn that the anxiety they experience naturally diminishes over time.
  • Increased Control: Therapy empowers individuals to take control of their responses to obsessions, rather than letting obsessions control their lives.
  • Improved Quality of Life: As the intensity and frequency of obsessions and compulsions decrease, individuals find themselves able to engage more fully in their daily activities and relationships.
  • Enhanced Coping Skills: They develop effective coping strategies to manage triggers and stressful situations without resorting to compulsive behaviors.
  • Long-Term Maintenance: While OCD may not be entirely “cured,” many individuals experience significant and lasting improvements in their symptoms. They also gain the tools to manage any potential relapses.

OCD can manifest in various forms, often referred to as “subtypes” or “themes.” These subtypes involve different types of obsessions and compulsions. It’s important to remember that while the themes may differ, the underlying mechanism of obsessions causing distress and compulsions as a response remains consistent across all types of OCD. Here are some common subtypes of OCD:

  • Contamination OCD: This subtype involves an intense fear of contamination or germs. Individuals with this subtype may compulsively wash their hands, shower excessively, avoid touching certain objects, or engage in rituals to prevent contamination.

  • Checking OCD: People with checking OCD have persistent fears that something terrible will happen if they don’t check certain things repeatedly. This might include checking if doors are locked, appliances are turned off, or items are in their proper place.

  • Symmetry and Ordering OCD: This subtype is characterized by a need for symmetry, precision, or specific arrangements. Individuals may feel extreme discomfort if things are not in a particular order and may spend significant time arranging and rearranging objects.

  • Harm OCD: This subtype involves distressing obsessions about causing harm to oneself or others. Despite the fact that they have no intention of acting on these thoughts, individuals may experience intense anxiety and engage in rituals to neutralize these fears.

  • Intrusive Thoughts OCD: Intrusive thoughts can involve violent, sexual, or taboo content. Individuals with this subtype experience distressing thoughts that go against their moral values. The compulsions often involve mental rituals to counteract or dismiss these thoughts.

  • Hoarding OCD: This subtype involves an excessive need to acquire and save items, even if they have little or no value. Hoarding leads to clutter and an inability to discard possessions, which can significantly impact living spaces.

  • Pure-O OCD: This is a form of OCD where the obsessions are primarily in the form of distressing thoughts, images, or urges. Compulsions in this subtype are mostly mental rituals, and they may not be as visible to others as physical compulsions.

  • Relationship OCD (ROCD): Individuals with ROCD experience persistent doubts and anxieties about their romantic relationships. They might obsess about whether they truly love their partner or if their partner loves them, even when evidence suggests otherwise.

  • Scrupulosity OCD: This subtype involves obsessions related to religious or moral concerns. Individuals might fear they’ve committed sins, violated religious principles, or are being punished by a higher power. Rituals often involve seeking reassurance or engaging in religious acts repeatedly.

  • Somatic OCD: In this subtype, the obsessions center around health and physical symptoms. Individuals may obsess over minor bodily sensations and fear they have a serious illness, even when medical professionals reassure them otherwise.

It’s important to note that many individuals may experience a combination of these subtypes or have symptoms that don’t neatly fit into a single category. Diagnosis and treatment should be tailored to the individual’s specific symptoms and needs. It’s important to note that therapy progress can vary from person to person, and the willingness to engage in the therapeutic process is key. If you suspect you or someone you know has OCD, it’s advisable to consult a mental health professional for a thorough assessment and appropriate treatment recommendations.


Therapy is one of the best forms of self-care. It is time to choose yourself.

Not sure where to get started? Reach out to us and we’ll discuss your needs and figure out a plan that works your you.

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