Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive disorder or OCD
I provide therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD and in this blog I will explain what OCD is and what function it serves for the individual who has been diagnosed with it.
OCD is a diagnosis that can be given to a you if you have behaviours that, to the observer seem, to some extent, unnecessarily repetitive and at the same time beyond the control of the person who presents with them. They follow the same patterns and occur frequently throughout a day. Therefore they are given the terms obsessive and compulsive. An individual may have had these behaviours for quite a while, even from childhood, or they may have experienced these behaviours for a briefer period of time.
There may be an incident that triggered the obsessional behaviours for example, the death of a loved one or a traumatic incident may have occurred or there may be no clear cause for the behaviours.
One of the things that characterizes OCD is other people’s response to it. People generally feel worry and concern when they see obsessive behaviours, particularly if a friend or family member presents with them. There is a real sense that they wish to stop or interrupt what they see happening because they feel that what they see is in some way strange and somehow dangerous to the individual who behaves in this way.
OCD and other associated compulsive behaviours are, more often than not, a strategy used by an individual to maximize the potential for things to go right for them or, more importantly, for things to be safe for them. They are a psychological attachment and an emotional safety net.
OCD is a ritual and like all rituals and habits it follows patterns and paths that are safe and familiar. Sometimes when the world seems unsafe or unpredictable it is good to have a ritual to use that makes you feel in some way in control of your surroundings and destiny.
From the athlete who insists on using the same pair of socks every time she competes, to the person who has to test his locked front door as he go to work, over and over again, before he can leave, even returning to his front door half way through a journey to recheck that it is truly shut, repetitive patterns and rituals help us to believe that we are more likely to make things go right…more likely to be safe.
So, it is important that before we remove these behaviours, or, as is perhaps a more accurate description, these self-protective strategies we know what function they serve for the individual. There is the potential that stopping or interrupting a pattern of behaviours without fully understanding what the pattern was protecting the individual from, is a dangerous thing to do to a person.
In this way, a person’s resistance to change may not be a sign that they are “hard to reach” or that they are “being difficult” but is probably more likely to be that nothing has been put in it’s place.
CBT has been used to address OCD but to date there is no clinical evidence to show that it works in the long term. Indeed when it has been shown to have worked there is evidence to say that patients have been compliant to the therapist’s wishes, for fear of disappointing them, rather than taking a life choice based on freedom of will and insight.
Therapy and counselling allows us to get back in touch with ourselves and it allows us the space we need to see why we needed the safety net of a ritually used pattern.
I believe that if I am unable to help a person who has been diagnosed with OCD then I have not been able to provide a safe enough alternative to the patterns of behaviour they currently employ to keep themselves safe. The poverty is in my vision rather than in the way they received help from me.
If you would like to find out more about how counselling can help you or someone you love with OCD then please feel free to get in touch with me.I would be happy to tell you how I work.