OCD & Obsessive Behaviours
OCD is an acronym in common use that technically means Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
People normally hear or read about obsessive behaviours and disorders being linked with OCD, which is a diagnosis widely used within the mental health profession.
However we have found it more helpful to separate Compulsive Behaviours from Obsessive Behaviours as the way they affect people’s lives and the way in which they are experienced is very different.
In general terms a Compulsive Behaviour is one that is undertaken, often with little thought, on impulse or with a sense of having been ‘driven’ to it, and “instant relief” is felt, however, more frequently than not, this feeling of satisfaction is almost always associated with a sense of guilt or shame – compulsive shopping is a classic example.
However, with OCD this sense of “relief”, the “instant gratification” is often never achieved which leads the sufferer to even greater confusion and conflict and often results in the obsession become more pronounced.
Frequently, when a particular “routine” or “obsessive thought” fails to provide any kind of relief, the sufferer will conclude that they must carry our longer or more complex repetitions in order to achieve relief.
These “ever-growing” cycles of behaviour or thinking can become “paralysing” and without the appropriate help can lead to an almost complete inability to “function normally”.
Symptoms of OCD
Below is a list of symptoms that are typically associated with OCD, although the obsessive thinker is capable of “creating” a wide range of complex and variable symptoms:
- A high desire to be in control.
- Eating Disorders (e.g. avoiding certain foods, anorexia).
- Constant worry about something.
- Sleeping problems (e.g. insomnia).
- Excessive exercise.
- Continual negative thoughts.
- Intrusive or cyclical thoughts.
- Constant counting.
- Excessive tidiness.
- Checking routines (door locks, gas knobs on cookers, etc.).
OCD is classified as a type of Anxiety and research indicates that the most effective forms of psychotherapy for dealing with anxiety based problems are the cognitive, or thinking based approaches such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).
Associated Symptoms & Behaviours
People may also experience a number of symptoms and behaviours that may not seem to be directly related to OCD including:
- Panic attacks.
- Avoidance strategies.
- Safety behaviours.
- Low self esteem.
Within the Power Threat Meaning Framework, these associated or secondary symptoms may be better thought of as threat responses and coping strategies that have been adopted in order to cope with the immediate problem.
Unfortunately, when faced with threats not everybody adopts threat responses that are ‘adaptive’ to the situation and may frequently choose approaches that end up being more harmful to mental and physical health in the longer term.
Despite this obvious paradox, it is important to recognise that nobody deliberately chooses ‘maladaptive’ coping mechanisms that result in more harm than good.
At some level, the choice of threat response made complete sense (was coherent) at the time the threat was originally experienced, and this may have been in childhood at a time when less personal resources were available.
Obsessions that can be helped
OCD thoughts and behaviours can range from simple everyday behaviours such as tidiness (e.g. placing all food tins in the cupboard with the label facing outwards) to counting numbers or doing sums in their head to the point that they can think of nothing else.
With all OCD problems, it is the degree to which the issue is preoccupying your time and/or limiting your life that is important.
For example, someone who worries about dirt or contamination may simply wash their hands carefully, maybe try and avoid using public toilets, or perhaps ensure they do not touch doors or handles in public toilets even if this means waiting a long time for someone else to open the door so they can nip through ‘untouched’.
However, place this same person under stress and they may begin to wash their hands obsessively and for some people this may become ritualistic to the point that their hands are never clean enough to leave their house.
PTMF Psychotherapy for OCD
We offer a range of psychotherapy options for OCD all of which adopt a psychosocial perspective.
What this means is that we will help you to understand and solve your obsessional problems from the point of view of what has happened to you and NOT what is wrong with you.
This approach is known as psychosocial therapy and here at Lee Psychology we help our clients to achieve a more meaningful and lasting recovery by offering psychotherapy services using the British Psychological Society’s (Division of Clinical Psychology) Power Threat Meaning Framework which rejects the idea that emotional and psychological distress are caused by biological faults or pathology.
This new approach stands in stark contrast to the biomedical models of mental illness used widely throughout the psychiatric and medical communities despite the almost total absence of any underlying scientific evidence in support of their position.
The psychosocial approaches to OCD, on the other hand, are built upon a significant base of clinical and empirical evidence established over the last 20 years.
The CORE CBT Programme for OCD
The CORE CBT Programme was devised and written by Paul in 2020 and combines all the best elements of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with additional knowledge drawn from research in Personal Construct Theory, Attribution Theory, Self-Determination Theory and Social Constructivism.
It is particularly well-suited to OCD related problems due to the prevalence of cognitive ideation in the creation of obsessive responses.
It is a 10 module course normally taken over a 10 week period with weekly hour long counselling sessions (either face-to-face or using Zoom), but can also be followed as a ‘teach yourself’ course for those with more manageable levels of anxiety.
Want to Find Out More?
If you’d like to find out more about overcoming or recovering from OCD using a psychosocial approach, then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.
During this consultation we will discuss your particular problem, what it means to you and the potential solutions that are available.
We provide a safe, confidential and non-judgemental environment without any obligation for you to commit to any psychotherapy programmes or sessions going forward.
This initial consultation will give you the opportunity to consider the merits of the psychosocial perspective as well as the chance to find out what Paul or Joan are like as individuals.