Other Treatments for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

There are many different types of counseling. Your doctor and counselor will talk to you about which treatment may be best for you. Treatment may change over time.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy can help you gain control over your behavior. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is can be very helpful in treating OCD. The counselor will create a way to expose you to feared objects or ideas. The counselor with then work to stop compulsive behavior while the trigger is present. Triggers will only be present if you approve. Example:

A compulsive hand washer may be asked to touch an object that triggers compulsion. They will then have to wait to wash their hands for several hours. Treatment should lead to less anxiety from your obsessive thoughts over time. The goal would be to stop compulsive behaviors for longer and longer periods of time.

The effects of this therapy can be long lasting. The best results occur if:

  • The therapist is well trained in the therapy that is used.
  • You are highly motivated.
  • Family is part of plan - if needed.
  • Sessions are attended as scheduled.
  • Homework efforts and course of treatment are completed.

Counseling plus medicine is a common plan from many doctors. The medicine may help to ease symptoms that may make therapy steps too difficult to begin. Therapy can then work on triggers and habits to decrease need for some medicine.

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy focuses on patterns of thinking. It can help you reduce thoughts that are harmful. You will examine your feelings and separate realistic from unrealistic thoughts or helpful from unhelpful thoughts. Cognitive therapy can help you gain a better sense of control over your life.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a combination of cognitive and behavioral therapy. You will examine your feelings and thought patterns. CBT will teach you how to interpret them in a more realistic way. Behavioral changes will also be planned.

Examples of therapies used to treat OCD include:

  • Exposure and response prevention—facing the feared object or obsession slowly over time. The goal is to prevent giving in to the compulsive habit linked to it
  • Aversion therapy—involves using a painful stimulus to prevent OCD habit.
  • Thought switching—replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
  • Flooding—involves being exposed to object that causes OCD behavior.
  • Implosion therapy—repeated exposure to object that causes fear.

References:

About OCD. International OCD Foundation website. Available at: https://iocdf.org/about-ocd. Accessed January 13, 2020.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Accessed January 13, 2020.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml. Accessed January 13, 2020.
Last reviewed May 2020 by Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 7/29/2020

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