• February 13, 2017
  • OCD

Help, I’m Constantly Counting! | Orlando OCD Treatment

At The Center for Anxiety & OCD at GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, we provide evidence-based treatment for  children, teens, and adults struggling with various forms of OCD.

You may wonder what it means when you or your child feel compelled to constantly count. This constant counting is a common compulsion of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Counting may be done mentally or out loud. Individuals with OCD may count things that don’t really need to be counted or make decisions by counting. Sometimes the person counts because it feels “right”.

Special numbers are common in those with counting compulsions. One might do a task a certain number of times, for example, flip the light switch four times, because four is a “good” or “right” number. Or one might mentally group objects, words or syllables into groups of ten, if ten is an indiviudal’s “safe” or “good” number. Some people with this type of OCD compulsion also have “bad” numbers that must be avoided or mentally replaced with a “good” number.

Odd and even numbers often take on significance. For instance, the radio volume must always be on an even number, or one must have an even number of ice cubes in one’s glass. If the number is odd, often the person often feels “off” or “not right” and is compelled to fix it, for example, by changing the volume to an even number or removing an ice cube so an even number of ice cubes is in the glass.

Some individuals with OCD count random things: lines on the highway, tiles on the floor, nails in a wall, windows, letters in words and so on. Some people with counting compulsions just count for the sake of counting, without counting anything specific.   Others count while they are doing certain activities, such as walking, cleaning, shaving, brushing teeth and so on.

Making decisions by counting is another common counting compulsion. For instance, the individual may make a decision about which foods they should order from a menu or which item they should buy by following rules that involve counting. Others count bodily functions, such as number of breaths, blinks, swallows, etc.

Most adults with OCD who have counting compulsions realize that what they are doing doesn’t make sense, but feel compelled to count anyway. Children, on the other hand, often don’t recognize that their counting behavior is out of the ordinary. For adults and children alike, counting compulsions can become so severe that they are consumed by counting rituals all day long.

Fortunately, there is an effective evidence-based treatment for the counting compulsions of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, we treat adults and children with OCD with Exposure and Response Prevention, a specific type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that is the gold standard for OCD treatment. ERP is designed to help adults and children with OCD manage their obsessions and compulsions and discover a new -found freedom from OCD and counting compulsions.

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Questions for OCD providers & therapists

Learn More: International OCD Foundation