CBT for OCD: Keys to Exposure and New Directions

Social Worker Resource
August 8, 2013 — 2,006 views  
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Obsessive-compulsive disorders are a surprisingly common condition to suffer from and can affect an individual in a number of ways. What is undisputed, however, is the fact that suffering from an OCD will significantly affect the overall quality of a patient’s life. Primarily classified as an anxiety disorder, OCDs are obsessive tendencies to perform a certain action that the patient feels must be performed without any logical explanation to do so.

Understanding OCD

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders are hard to understand for the unaffected people because there happens to be no logical explanation for the repetitive urge for an action to be performed. Also, a lot of people joke about many people having minor obsessions and compulsions.  So when this condition affects an individual with medium severity it may not be taken seriously.

Primarily a psychological condition, suffering from an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder will translate into lifestyle choices. Some of the more common OCD variants include suffering a fear of contamination from germs and dirt - translating into an obsession to clean the surrounding environment, imagining doing substantial harm to another person, and excessive doubts such as suffering from a condition that you show no symptoms of. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the newer methods in the treatment of OCD and is made up of two types of treatments. The first is known as exposure and response therapy while the other is cognitive therapy.

Cognitive therapy is usually performed alongside the exposure and response method of treatment and focuses primarily on the patient themselves being able to see and recognize their condition. Cognitive therapy requires a lot of reflection on areas of the patient’s life that would have led them to suffering from the condition. A thought record is charted throughout the treatment and allows the patient to chart their thoughts and their interpretations regarding their obsessions.

Exposure and Response Prevention

The exposure and response variant of treatment is primarily inflicting imagined or controlled exposure of the patient to the object or situation that is known to trigger an episode of OCD. Obviously, the trigger will depend largely on the kind of OCD the patient suffers from and the intensity of the condition. Exposure and response prevention will, over a period of time, expose the individual to increasing levels of the trigger factor to help the mind and body condition themselves to being more at ease within these surroundings. Long time sufferers will usually benefit from exposure and response prevention methods of dealing with the condition.

Studies of patients that have been through this variant of treatment show that as many as 75% of them reflect a reduction in the intensity of the condition, helping them to be less anxious. The majority of the improvement is usually seen after about two or three years of treatment - especially in the case of the more serious cases. Some of the patients that do not show remarkable results, after going through the treatment, are usually those that fall into the low to medium intensity affected individuals. 

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