Does Therapy Help OCD? | Effective Treatment For OCD
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder that is characterized by unwanted thoughts and disruptive compulsive behaviors and rituals. The types of unwanted thoughts and compulsions in OCD tend to fall into four main themes or categories:
- Contamination obsessions and decontamination rituals
- Obsessive thoughts about being responsible for harm and checking rituals
- Obsessions and compulsions related to evenness, completeness and for things to feel “just right”
- Unacceptable thoughts (e.g., concerning sex, violence or religion) and mental neutralizing compulsions
Until the 1970s, OCD was considered to be untreatable, even though psychological interventions had been attempted since the time of Freud. And unfortunately, even in our current times, many physicians and mental health clinicians do not know how to correctly diagnose and treat OCD.
It’s important to be aware that treatment for OCD is a specialized field. Best practice guidelines recommend that first line treatment for children, teens and adults suffering from OCD is a particular type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Randomized controlled studies from around the world indicate that ERP, sometimes accompanied by medication, is the only treatment for OCD that works. Studies have found that even without medication, up to 85% of individuals who received ERP attained clinically significant improvement. There is no evidence that supports treatments such as hypnosis, psychoanalysis, talk-therapy, relaxation, eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR), herbal or homeopathic remedies or dietary changes.
Many people with OCD and their families say that the most difficult part of managing the disorder is finding the right kind of help. Because symptoms can be so complex, it can take years for patients, their families, doctors and therapists to recognize that the patient is suffering from OCD.
Many therapists do not have specialized training in CBT or ERP, although they might indicate that they do CBT along with a myriad of other treatment approaches such as EMDR, “eclectic”, psychodynamic, Gestalt, emotion freedom technique (EFT) and so on. In addition, these clinicians typically do not focus on OCD, but treat everything from addictions to relationship problems everything in between. It’s important to note that there are no mandatory number of hours psychotherapists or psychologists must spend training in CBT or ERP and the actual number of therapists who treat OCD correctly is very small.
Unfortunately other forms of talk therapy can actually make OCD worse, not better. Many therapists who have not received specialized training for the treatment of OCD, with the very best of intentions, inadvertently do more harm than good. Because many well-qualified, competent therapists do not know much about OCD and are not trained in ERP, individuals with OCD must take great care when screening a potential clinician before starting therapy. Ask specifically about the therapist’s training in ERP – even a CBT therapist without specific training in ERP should be avoided. With the right kind of treatment, people with OCD can and do get better.
At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, therapists who specialize in treating OCD at our practice exclusively work with the disorder so they can be true experts in this area. Treatment of OCD at GroundWork is through Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), a specific type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, considered the gold standard of OCD treatment.
*When selecting an OCD provider, we suggest asking these questions
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