Beyond OCD: Cognitive Behavioral TherapyPosted by Phil Cardenas on Aug 01, 2012
by Janet Singer
Where There's a Will, There's a Way
While OCD is a neurologically based anxiety disorder with the potential to destroy lives, the good news is it’s treatable. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), specifically Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy, is the treatment of choice for those with the disorder.
ERP Therapy is difficult, as it forces sufferers to face their fears head-on, and then requires them to refrain from performing compulsions. This process initially evokes intense anxiety, and this anxiety is one of the main reasons sufferers postpone, or even avoid treatment.
I believe this is a big mistake. If you have OCD, the longer you go without proper therapy, the harder your disorder will be to treat. Once a diagnosis has been made, it’s important to find a therapist who specializes in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder. Beyond OCD can help.
Unfortunately however, connecting with a qualified therapist isn’t always easy or even possible, as various obstacles may arise. Maybe you live in a rural area, have limited financial resources, or aren’t able to leave your home. These are just a few examples of why traveling to a therapist may be an issue. If finding a competent healthcare provider proves difficult, you may be inclined to just put off treatment.
Exposure Response Prevention options
Please don’t. Thankfully, there are some other good options to get you started on ERP Therapy. Self-help books abound and you can check them out at bookstores or online. Also, there are now a number of web sites to help you with ERP Therapy. Take a look at OCD Challenge, for example, which gives a step-by-step explanation of the “hows and whys” of treatment. The site is easy to use and guides you through ERP Therapy.
There are also apps that can be used on smart phones. Live OCD Free is the most current app I’ve seen that walks you through ERP Therapy. There are several others on the market that you may want to investigate.
Internet Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Best of all, these web sites and apps work. A recent pilot study of the effectiveness of ICBT (Internet Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) shows promising results. Twenty-three patients underwent a fifteen week ICBT program "with therapist support consisting of psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring and exposure with response prevention. At post-treatment, 61% of participants had a clinically significant improvement and 43% no longer fulfilled the diagnostic criteria of OCD. The treatment also resulted in statistically significant improvements in self-rated OCD symptoms, general functioning and depression."
So there are good alternatives to the traditional face-to-face therapy. The bottom line is you should never feel there is nowhere to turn. If an OCD specialist is not available to you, research books, web sites and apps. Because while overcoming OCD is tough, I’ve never met anyone who has regretted engaging in ERP Therapy. In fact, it’s just the opposite; sufferers often wish they’d gotten help sooner. While treatment involves a lot of hard work, the payoff is huge: freedom from OCD.
Beyond OCD is the leading provider of consumer-friendly resources to help sufferers cope with and conquer Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and the web site also contains valuable information assets on OCD for families and friends, as well as for mental health professionals.
Janet Singer, an advocate for OCD awareness, is published regularly on various mental health web sites. She explores all topics related to OCD and shares what helped and what hurt in her son Dan’s recovery from this devastating disorder. While there were many lessons learned along the way, Janet feels the most powerful one of all is that there is always hope. She is committed to getting the word out that OCD, no matter how severe, is treatable. You can read more about Dan’s story and follow her personal blog at: http://www.ocdtalk.wordpress.com/. Janet uses a pseudonym to protect her son’s privacy.