Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD is characterized by the presence of both obsessions, intrusive, unwanted thoughts, images or impulses that trigger distress, and compulsions are specific behaviors or mental processes that an individual feels compelled to perform in attempt to neutralize the obsessions or decrease the distress triggered by obsessions.
Common Obsessions Common Compulsions
Health and illness Checking
Harm and violence Reassurance
Sexuality/Sexual Orientation Mental Inventory/Checking/Retracing
Scrupulosity/Moral Confessing, Asking for forgiveness
Just Right/Perfectionism Perfecting, ordering and arranging
*These are not exhaustive lists, there are many, many things that people can
obsess about and attempt to neutralize
Exposure and Response Prevention is a treatment designed to help people both reduce and resist rituals and overcome obsessive thinking.
Goals of treatment include:
Gain insight into process, triggers and mechanism that drive and maintain OCD cycle.
Learn how to tolerate and cope with distressing thoughts and feelings that drive obsessions.
Monitor, reduce and eliminate compulsions that feed obsessions.
Develop tolerance and resiliency towards doubt and uncertainty without the need to fix or neutralize through compulsions
Become mindful of personal triggers and cues to maintain progress and avoid relapses
Treatment for OCD is rigorous, but there are good, clinically proven outcomes of treatment. Treatment coaches patients to reduce and resist rituals that feed obsessions, use exposure techniques to address fears, and learn to tolerate uncertainty and doubt. Treatment entails homework outside of session and a commitment to personal recovery to get the best results.
It is important that OCD treatment be performed by an individual with specific training to treat OCD. Exposure and Response Prevention is the gold standard with the most proven clinical outcomes to treat OCD. I trained in ERP at the Obsessive Compulsive Intensive Outpatient Program within the Mood and Anxiety Clinic of UPMC in 2016. I also completed the BTTI (Behavior Therapy Training Institute) through the International OCD Foundation in 2017. I have sought and continue to seek expert consultation when needed to meet the needs of my patients.