Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Therapy
OCD Therapist in Gainesville, FL
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental health disorder that involves a pattern of obsessions and compulsions. According to the International OCD Foundation, approximately 2 to 3 million adults in the United States have OCD. OCD can occur at any time in life, however it generally appears between ages 8-12 and late teens/early adulthood. Most people have intrusive thoughts or compulsions are some point in their life. It becomes OCD when the obsessions and compulsions become highly distressing, take up a significant time in your day, and get in the way of daily functioning.
What are Obsessions?
Obsessions can be defined as unwanted, intrusive thoughts, urges, or impulses. Obsessions are recurrent, distressing, and trigger intense anxiety.
Some examples of obsessions:
Fear of harming self or others
Concern with getting ill due to contaminants
Fear of not saying just the right thing
Extreme concern with order or symmetry
What are Compulsions?
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that an individual feels compelled to do in response to their obsessions or in accordance with a rigid set of rules. These behaviors aim to alleviate anxiety or distress, however they are not logically connected to what they are trying to prevent or they are excessive.
Examples of compulsions:
Washing hands excessively in a certain way
Repeatedly checking that a door is locked
Doing activities in multiples (e.g. doing a task four times because four is a “good” number)
Checking that you did not harm yourself or others
Avoiding situations that might trigger obsessions
OCD Treatment / Exposure Response Prevention
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for OCD. It is recognized as the most evidence-based treatment for OCD. ERP involves exposing yourself to the feared thoughts, images, objects, or situations that make you anxious and trigger your obsession then choosing to not engage in the compulsion.
When a person has OCD, it takes over the body’s alarm system. Instead of just alerting you to danger, OCD makes your alarm system go off to any trigger (no matter how small) as a terrifying, catastrophic threat. OCD tricks you into believing your compulsions will protect you from the threat. The more you give into the compulsions, the stronger OCD becomes, and that danger becomes reinforced. Not engaging in the compulsions makes OCD weaker and you become stronger.
The idea of purposefully exposing yourself to things that make you anxious may sound scary or odd to you. If you have OCD, you have probably tried to confront your obsessions before, and you’ve seen your anxiety significantly increase. With ERP, you make the decision to confront your obsessions and not give in to the compulsions. When you stay committed to the exposure, you will feel a significant drop in your anxiety and reinforce to your brain that there is no real danger.
If you've read this page and realize you may be struggling with OCD, therapy can provide you with the support and tools you need. As an experienced OCD therapist, I will help you to face your fears and gain control of your life again. Together, we will work to challenge OCD, reduce anxiety, and help you feel more confident. OCD doesn't have to control your life anymore. You deserve to feel relief from anxiety and fear. If you're ready to take the first step in getting help for OCD, reach out to me through my website contact form or call/text me to set up an appointment. I provide in-person appointments in Gainesville FL, and I can offer video appointments to anyone located in the state of Florida.