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Living with Doubt | Orlando OCD Specialist Shares Information 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was once known as the “doubting disease” Although psychologists have attempted to treat OCD since the days of Freud, it was considered to be virtually untreatable. In 1966 the psychologist Victor Meyer wrote about successfully treating two individuals with OCD by changing their cognitions and implementing a way to block compulsive rituals; this was considered to be the forerunner of modern Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approaches for the treatment of OCD. This was followed by the development of behavior therapy techniques by psychologists at the Maudsley Hospital in the 1970’s, which for the first time, began to give hope that OCD could be treated successfully. However, it wasn’t until the early 1980’s that different procedures developed by various psychologists evolved into what is now known at Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), an effective treatment for the symptoms of OCD.

It was discovered long ago that doubt is at the root of OCD, as those who suffer with OCD want absolute certainty that their feared outcome absolutely won’t happen. OCD makes sufferers doubt relentlessly. Am I really sure that the door is locked? Are my hands truly free from all contaminants? Am I going to snap and murder someone? Do I really love God enough? How do I know I’m really straight? In order to achieve certainty, the person with OCD engages in compulsions. She checks and re-checks the door. He washes his hands again until they crack and bleed. She replays scenarios and analyzes her thoughts. He confesses over and over to his priest. She seeks reassurance from her mother. Yet no matter how many times the OCD sufferer repeats his compulsive behaviors, there is always that sliver of doubt. Absolute certainty is always just out of reach so she continues to check, to wash, to analyze, to get reassurance and so on. OCD plays on a person’s biggest fears and makes sufferers doubt their every action as well as their very character.

Yet life is filled with doubt and uncertainty for all of us. It’s been said that all certainty is merely an illusion. We can never have complete certainty, so the only alternative is learning to live with doubt. We must learn to accept that for all of us, both good and bad things will happen. We can never be completely sure that something won’t happen to us or to those we love, not matter how much we try to prevent a bad outcome.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) techniques help those suffering from OCD to confront their fears and learn to live with doubt. This doesn’t mean that living with uncertainty will become easy or comfortable. With good treatment, individuals with OCD can learn to live with doubt, much like the rest of the population, which means you won’t like it, but you’ll accept that it’s a necessary part of life.

It is important for perspective clients to understand that there is no evidence to suggest that other psychological approaches (insight-oriented, eclectic, EMDR, psychodynamic, emotional freedom and so on) are effective in the treatment of OCD.

At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, we use empirically validated methods of treatment that consist of Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), a specific type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. With ERP, individuals suffering with OCD can learn to live with doubt.

*When selecting an OCD provider, we suggest asking these questions 

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