Do you feel anxious, nervous or worried much of the time? Do you struggle with making decisions or completing your daily routines? Do you often find yourself ruminating or worrying to the point that it is interfering with your life? If so, you may be struggling with an anxiety disorder.
There are many different types of anxiety disorders, from social anxiety, to phobias, to generalized anxiety disorder to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Research has shown that evidence-based practices based on a CBT foundation are the most effective treatments for anxiety disorders. Though there is some variety in the specific approaches used for each type of anxiety disorder, there are commonalities that each approach shares. The therapists at Discovery Counseling & Consulting have had extensive training in the application of CBT to treat anxiety disorders.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
OCD is a neurobehavioral disorder that is often classified as an anxiety disorder. As the name suggests, it’s characterized by the presence of obsessions and compulsions that are severe enough to be time-consuming and cause significant personal distress.
Obsessions are persistent, images, or urges that intrude into your mind even though you don’t want them there. Obsessions provoke anxiety or discomfort and often the fear or uncertainty that something bad or harmful might happen. This anxiety or discomfort (or even the anticipation of this anxiety or discomfort) triggers an urge for you to do something to prevent or relieve these uncomfortable feelings.
This something is called a compulsion. Compulsions are overt behaviors or covert mental acts that are performed repetitively to relieve the anxiety and discomfort generated by an obsession.
If you have OCD, you probably feel like you are trapped in an endless cycle of routines and rituals designed to keep your doubts and worry at bay. But no matter how many times you repeat the routines and rituals, the terrible thoughts and images just keep coming back. So you do your routines and rituals again…and again…It seems like the more you do to get rid of the thoughts, the worse they get.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. In the United States alone it’s estimated that 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children have OCD. The good news is that for the vast majority of OCD sufferers, it’s treatable. Research has shown that the most effective treatment for OCD is a specialized form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) known as Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and the OCD therapists at Discovery Counseling & Consulting have received advanced training in this approach.
How Does ERP work?
In Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), you and your therapist will work together to gradually trigger the anxiety and uncertainty through a process of real-life or imagined exposures while you simultaneously work to resist engaging in your compulsions. By staying in contact with the thing that you fear and not engaging in your compulsive behaviors you will actually start to get used to the uncomfortable feelings so they don’t feel as bad anymore. It’s just like the process of habituation that occurs when you jump into a cold swimming pool. At first you feel very uncomfortable (after all, the water is FREEZING!), but if you stay in the pool you start to get used to it and you don’t feel that cold anymore. By not engaging in your compulsive behaviors, you gradually start to find out that the terrible things don’t usually happen, that the uncomfortable feelings DO go away, and that you CAN stand it.
To schedule an appointment with one of our clinicians, or learn more about Exposure and Response Prevention, please call our office (804-591-0002) or request an appointment online.