When a patient is diagnosed with OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder, the typical form of treatment involves a combination of antidepressant medications and psychological therapy. While there are many forms of psychological therapy, the one that has been found the most effective for the treatment of OCD is “CBT” or “cognitive behavioral therapy”.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is centered upon the theory that our thoughts or perceptions control the way we react or behave and not our environment, situations, or circumstances. Therefore, by changing the way we think we can also change the way in which we respond to these situations.
CBT – Exposure and Response Prevention
The exposure and response prevention method used in cognitive behavioral therapy is used to help the patient gain control over their compulsions by exposing them to their obsessions and then having them refuse from following through on their compulsive behavior.
For instance, if an individual has the compulsion of having to wash there hands excessively they will be asked to shake hands or touch an object such as door knob and then refrain from washing their hands. This method has proven to be effective as the compulsive urge tend to go away after a relatively short period of time on its own.
After awhile of utilizing this method of desensitization, the patient begins to realize that they no longer have to act on their compulsions in order to relieve their anxiety. This type of cognitive behavioral therapy has been effective in decreasing and even eliminating some of the compulsions in patients with OCD. By facing their fears, the patient also learns how to manage their unwanted thoughts or obsessions in order to relate their anxiety.
Cognitive Therapy for OCD
The cognitive therapy utilized for patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder focuses on the obsessive thoughts that cause the individual to engage in their compulsive behavior. The unrealistic or irrational thoughts are challenged by having the patient weigh the percentages or the likelihood that their fears could actually become a reality.
Once the patient has learned to recognize their irrational thoughts, they are taught the skills to replace them with more healthy and positive thoughts and also methods of relaxation techniques that can be used to calm themselves in certain situations that have previously triggered their anxiety.
In most cases, patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder will begin to see an improvement after only a few sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy. However, if you suffer form OCD you will want to ensure that you obtain a therapist that specializes in this type of therapy for the treatment of anxiety disorders as not all therapists are trained or qualified in cognitive behavioral therapy.
It has been found that it is not uncommon for many individuals who have OCD to receive years of therapy that is adequate to treat their condition and has actually been known to exacerbate the symptoms in some individuals with OCD . Therefore, it is essential if you are looking for a therapist to treat your OCD that you research the therapist's qualifications and inquire about their level of experience in the treatment of anxiety disorders.