Psychological Treatment of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
What is OCD?
OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is an anxiety disorder in which a person feels compelled to engage in certain physical or mental acts (“rituals” or compulsions) in order to relieve their anxiety connected with intrusive thoughts (obsessions). OCD with mental rituals only is sometimes referred to as Pure Obsessional OCD or “Pure O”, as both the obsession and the compulsion are mental acts rather than physical acts.
Examples of common physical OCD compulsions:
· washing hands to relieve a fear of contamination by germs or poisons.
· repetitively checking locks, power switches, etc to relieve fears that they have not been locked, switched off etc.
· performing activities in a set order for fear that otherwise some negative event may occur.
Examples of common mental OCD compulsions:
· suppressing thoughts of harming others
· suppressing or neutralising thoughts of engaging in bizarre behaviour
Treatments for OCD
While there are also medication treatments for OCD, this website deals only with the proven psychological approach known as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). One advantage of psychological therapy is that, because during therapy a person learns techniques to overcome their anxieties and compulsions, they can continue to apply these techniques after therapy has finished.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT is a form of psychological therapy which has been shown by many controlled trials to be effective in treating OCD.
There are two main forms of CBT which have been found to be effective in treating OCD. These are: Exposure with Response Prevention, and Cognitive Therapy.
(1) Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP): In this therapy the OCD sufferer is taught to engage in a
series of exercises which desensitises them to the aspect of the obsessional situation which causes anxiety.
(2) Cognitive Therapy: In Cognitive Therapy the OCD sufferer is taught a series of techniques to correct negative
and irrational thoughts which underlie their obsessions and compulsions. This reduces their fear and reduces the need to engage in the compulsive ritual.
Some recent cognitive therapy approaches to treating OCD also include attention training techniques to reduce the frequency and intensity of intrusive obsessive thoughts, and in turn reduce the extent of OCD-induced anxiety.
An example of these newer cognitive therapy approaches is Danger Ideation Reduction Training (D.I.R.T.), which includes both cognitive restructuring (thought challenging) and attention retraining techniques. However cognitive restructuring is the core technique in treatment.
A Medicare rebate of just over $117.00 per visit is now available with appropriate GP referral, paediatrician referral, or psychiatrist referral. Up to 12 rebatable visits per year (18 in exceptional circumstances). Click on 'Treatment; link below
For information on other anxiety disorders try: www.CRUFAD.org
Disclaimer: The information on this page is very general and should not be seen as diagnosis or treatment advice. You should consult a psychologist or other qualified health professional for advice on your specific problems and the best form of treatment for you.
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