Monday, 8 October 2012

Therapy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

A quick overview of OCD and how a human givens therapist would go about treating this debilitating anxiety disorder.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is the name given to a condition where people are having uncontrollable and unreasonable obsessions or compulsions that are excessive.

Obsessions could include form of a preoccupation about contaminations and germs, or anything 'unclean', an obsession with things being kept tidy, having constant doubts about whether they have done something like turning off the taps or locking the door or constant thoughts about doing something aggressive or embarrassing which they may or may not be able to control.


Compulsions are repetitive behaviours and rituals that the suffer feels compelled to do to lower their anxiety levels. The relief is only temporary so the rituals are woven into the person's daily routine and are not necessarily directly related to the obsessive thought, for example a person who has angry thoughts may count objects to control their thought. Common compulsons are cleaning, checking, repeating, hoarding or going excessively slowly and methodically about their daily activities.
'Official' diagnosis 
For a diagnosis of OCD the obsessions and/or compulsions must take up a considerable amount of the person’s time and interfere with normal routines and activities including domestic, social and working relationships.
OCD, like all anxiety disorders and highly emotional states, interfere with the ability to think and concentrate. It is not uncommon for a sufferer to avoid certain situations, for example, someone who is obsessed with cleanliness may be unable to use toilets other than ones they have cleaned themselves.

Onset of OCD is usually gradual and most often begins in adolescence or early adulthood. Children with OCD, unlike adults, do not usually realize that their obsessions and compulsions are excessive.

Treatment of OCD

Effective therapeutic treatment of OCD would include a mix of all of the following:
  • Relaxation techniques,
  • Doing an emotional needs audit, formally or informally, to see where stresses are coming from,
  • Separating the person’s core identity from the OCD so they can challenge the obsessive thoughts and behaviours,
  • Educating them about how the OCD process works,
  • Instilling in them the idea that the OCD is ‘bullying’ them and that they must not allow themselves to be bullied,
  • Rewinding extreme examples of the behaviour and any traumatic incidents that may have triggered it in the first place.
  • Guided imagery to rehearse not doing the behaviour in situations where they have been doing it.
  • Showing them how to get their innate emotional needs met in their lives.
To find a Human Givens therapist with these skills, please see our online therapist register.

For training in how to help OCD sufferers please see our anxiety training days from Human Givens College.

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