All About CBT for OCD, How it Works and What’s Involved

CBT for OCD inner workings of the mind

CBT for OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

CBT for OCD is one of the most effective ways of overcoming the emotional distress caused by this condition.

OCD is also known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and describes a range of behaviours and feelings that people do in order to feel in control of certain situations.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was developed by Aaron Beck in the 1960’s who recognised that people’s inner-thoughts were often more significant than the things that they said out loud during therapy sessions.

He called these inner-thoughts cognition and argued that the way that people think about their experiences links directly to the emotions that they feel.

In other words our emotional experiences are the outcomes of what we think and believe rather than being caused by external events.

These ideas form the central concept of CBT which states that:

The way people think determines the way that they feel.

In the case of OCD the emotions that we feel are the direct result of what we think or believe our experiences mean.

Common symptoms of OCD

OCD Symptoms

Below is a list of symptoms that are typically associated with OCD, although you may experience a wide range of complex and variable symptoms:

  • Obsessive thoughts: Persistent, intrusive, and distressing thoughts, images, or impulses that the individual cannot control and that often center around themes of harm, contamination, orderliness, or religion.
  • Compulsive behaviours or mental acts: Repetitive, ritualistic behaviours or mental acts that the individual feels driven to perform in response to their obsessions, such as handwashing, checking, counting, arranging, or repeating phrases.
  • Anxiety: Intense anxiety or distress that is triggered by the obsessions and relieved temporarily by the compulsions.
  • Time-consuming: Spending significant amounts of time performing the compulsions or thinking about them.
  • Interference with daily life: The obsessions and compulsions can significantly interfere with the individual’s ability to carry out their daily activities, relationships, and work.
  • Avoidance: Avoiding situations or triggers that may trigger the obsessions or compulsions.
  • Sense of shame or guilt: Feeling ashamed or guilty about the obsessions or compulsions, or feeling like they are a sign of weakness or a moral failing.

You may have some or all of these symptoms, but it is important to remember that you may feel anxious in different ways to other people because of the subjective nature of human experiences.


How does CBT for OCD work?

Normally a programme of CBT for OCD takes place over a period of 10 to 20 weeks with an hour long session once per week.

Firstly, because the way you think about your day-to-day experiences is determined by your core beliefs, the early sessions of CBT for OCD involve exploring and measuring these beliefs.

Secondly, once you are able to uncover your core beliefs, your thoughts about certain experiences will make more sense.

Thirdly, by understanding how you have made sense of your experiences in the past you can then begin to make changes to your thoughts and beliefs in order to create new, and more useful, emotional outcomes.

CBT for OCD builds upon the 5 core CBT principles developed by Aaron Beck and are used extensively in our CORE Programme.

CORE CBT for OCD programme on Mac

How many sessions of CBT will I need?

Whilst this is a difficult question to be precise about, most people will be able to overcome their OCD problems in around 10 – 20 sessions.

However, because CBT for OCD is always tailored to your own individual needs and circumstances, getting the outcome that you want may sometimes require more sessions.

If you have been suffering OCD problems for many years then in all likelihood, you can reasonably expect to take a bit longer to get where you want to be.

Our CBT for OCD programme is based on 12 sessions delivered over 12 weeks and uses an online learning platform for you to develop greater self-awareness and knowledge in the days between sessions.

Free initial consultations for cbt for ocd

Arrange your FREE initial consultation here.

If you’d like to find out more about CBT for OCD or recovering from any of your mental health problems then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.

During this consultation we will discuss your particular issues and the different types of mental health counselling we offer (including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT) without you having to commit to any counselling going forward.

The consultation lasts around 50 minutes and is a great opportunity to meet with either Paul or Joan and decide if you would like to proceed with any support.

Related Pages

Paul Lee BSc. MSc. Psych.

Psychologist Paul Lee in Clinic

You can contact Paul by e-mail on:

Tel: 07434 776125

Not Ready to Commit to Therapy Quite Yet?

Then why not see if you can solve your OCD problems using our comprehensive, Online Self-Help CBT course.


Written especially for people who prefer not to engage with a therapist before doing everything they can to overcome their problems.

Mirroring our in-house course of CBT, it contains everything that you need to know to tackle mental health challenges for only £149.

Counselling Locations

We offer cbt of OCD problems for people living in:

  • Wombourne
  • Wolverhampton
  • West Midlands
  • Shropshire
  • South Staffordshire
  • Telford
  • Shrewsbury

You can also access our services around the World using online therapy with Paul.