Counselling for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Counselling for OCD
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, often referred to as OCD, is an anxiety disorder with two essential characteristics:
- Recurrent and persistent thoughts ideas and feelings (referred to as obsessive thoughts)
- Repetitive, ritualised behaviours (referred to as compulsions or compulsive behaviours).
Attempts to resist a compulsive behaviour produces mounting tension and anxiety, which are relieved immediately by giving in and carrying out the behaviour. The term is not properly used for behaviours like excessive drinking, gambling, eating etc. on the grounds that the ‘compulsive gambler’ for example, actually derives considerable pleasure from gambling (it’s the losing that hurts); one burdened with a true Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) derives no pleasure from it other than the release of tension.
Who Can Counselling for OCD Help?
Do you worry about the harmful effect of germs and contamination and spend excessive amounts of time washing/cleaning to try and avoid these effects? Do you repeatedly check and recheck things (e.g. switches, locks)? Do you experience unwanted thought or images about accidents or doing harm to others? Do you excessively hoard items and feel unable to throw anything away? Do you feel compelled to be absolutely perfect? Do you struggle to make even trivial decisions? Do you often feel compelled to memorize trivial things (e.g., licence plate numbers, instructions on labels)? Do you feel compelled to follow a very strict routine when doing ordinary things? Do you feel upset if your furniture or other possessions are not always in exactly the same position? Are you often very late because you can’t get through ordinary tasks on time? Do you almost always count when doing a routine task?
If you have answered ‘Yes’ to at least one of these questions you may benefit from our counselling services for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
How Common is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
What Causes OCD?
There is no clear answer to this question but a number of theories exist regarding factors that may make a person vulnerable to the development of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:
Early childhood experiences which have led an individual to develop beliefs that they are vulnerable and that the world is not a safe place (e.g. having overprotective and/or very anxious parents) can place people at risk of developing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
An individual suffering with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is four times more likely than someone who is not to have another family member with OCD. However, to date, no specific gene has been identified so this may be due to the fact that individuals from the same family share experiences (e.g. overprotective/anxious parents).
Brain scanning has revealed that those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder experience increased activity in the part of the brain that is responsible for creating and managing emotions. The reason for this is unclear but following a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), activity in this area returns to normal.
It is not clear the role that Serotonin plays in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but medication (e.g. antidepressants) which increases its availability can be helpful.
What is the treatment for an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
After reviewing all treatments for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends the following:
For Children and Adolescents
A course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy adapted to meet the child’s developmental stage should be offered as a first line treatment, if appropriate this should also include family members. Medication should only be considered if CBT is not effective.
Mild Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – a minimum of 10 sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy should be offered.
Moderate Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – depending on the preference of the sufferer, either a minimum of 10 sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or SSRI medication should be offered.
What Does Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Involve?
To begin with you will meet with one of our Therapists to discuss your OCD, the obsessional thoughts that you experience, the compulsive behaviours that you perform and the impact of these on your life, relationships and self-esteem. Your Therapist will also ask some more general questions about your life and what you would like to achieve through your counselling so that they are able to tailor a counselling programme specifically to help your condition.
They will then help you to understand why your OCD exists, why you experience obsessions and compulsive urges and why you are unable to resist these, because understanding a problem like this, helps us to feel more able to overcome it.
You will then explore the accuracy and helpfulness of the thoughts that precede your compulsive behaviours in order to build your confidence for step 4.
Your Therapist will now help you to resist your compulsions, in order to gather evidence, to challenge your fears about the consequences, of not engaging in the behaviours and to build your confidence in your ability to tolerate the anxiety that this leads to.
Finally, your Therapist will help you to understand the factors that have made you vulnerable to developing OCD and will teach you ways of boosting your self-esteem and confidence in order to protect against future relapse of symptoms.
All of our Therapists offer OCD counselling.