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Therapy for OCD

Do you feel trapped by intrusive worries you can’t control? Do you feel driven to engage in specific behaviors to stop those fears from coming true? 

A woman standing and looking out over the vast expanse of the ocean. This image on our OCD specialty page captures the sense of contemplation and reflection in the journey of overcoming OCD. Discover how our OCD therapy services can provide effective support and guidance on your path to finding relief. Our dedicated counselors offer compassionate OCD counseling to help you regain control and live a fulfilling life.

Are you feeling stuck in the cycle of fighting off your obsessive fears by engaging in compulsive behaviors?

 It might feel like your fears are under control, but at what cost?

You’ve found ways to manage your thoughts, but no matter what you do, relief is temporary.

You’ve been so focused on trying to control your OCD, you don’t seem to have time or energy for anything else.

Feeling like this is too much.

We understand what you are going through.

When you are ready, we are here for you.

A woman sitting with her head in her hands, portraying the emotional struggle often associated with OCD. This image on our OCD specialty page is placed alongside the symptoms of OCD, highlighting the challenges individuals may face. Our OCD therapy services offer compassionate support and effective counseling for those seeking relief. Discover how our dedicated counselors can guide you on your journey towards managing OCD and finding inner peace.

Does this sound like you?

  • Unwanted and intrusive worries 

  • Specific fears that keep coming up, like fear of contamination, getting sick, hurting others, religion, sex, or violence

  • Persistent worries that are hard to ignore

  • Fears of making mistakes or something bad happening

  • Struggling with lack of control around impact of worries

  • Urge or “need” to respond to worries with a behavior that will (temporarily) reduce your worry 

  • Time and effort spent on controlling or stopping the worries is time consuming and distressing

  • Feeling ashamed that you have these thoughts and feelings

  • Avoiding people, places, and experiences that are triggering

  • Feeling as if you are "crazy" or loss of control

  • Having a hard time stopping the behaviors to control you worry even though you know it is not rational

If you answered yes,
you may be experiencing symptoms of OCD

You have probably heard the term OCD casually thrown around when people talk about being really clean or orderly. While it's common to experience occasional worries or engage in rituals, like a bedtime routine, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) can take these to an extreme level, leading to significant distress and problems in daily living. 

You know it, we know it, true OCD is much more than just a preference for cleanliness or organization. It's a serious mental health condition that involves persistent, intrusive thoughts and images, and lead to compulsive behaviors or rituals that are performed to try and alleviate the anxiety caused by these thoughts. OCD looks and feels different for everyone who experiences it. However, there are some common features of the disorder that many people with OCD can relate to. At its core, OCD involves experiencing unwanted, intrusive thoughts or images that are often disturbing, distressing, or anxiety-provoking. 

Ok wait - what is an “intrusive thought”? 

 

An intrusive thought is a thought that comes into your mind unexpectedly and often feels disturbing or unwanted. These thoughts can be about anything, from fears of contamination, health and physical symptoms, or morality to harming someone to questioning your own values or beliefs. These thoughts are often very distressing and feel like they are outside of your control. It's important to remember that everyone experiences intrusive thoughts from time to time, and having them does not mean you have OCD. In fact, it's estimated that up to 90% of people have experienced intrusive thoughts at some point in their lives. The difference for those with OCD is that the thoughts can become more frequent and intense, and can lead to compulsive behaviors in an attempt to alleviate the distress they cause.

Ok, so then what is a “compulsive behavior”?

 

A compulsive behavior is a repetitive action or mental act that someone feels driven to do in response to an intrusive thought or in order to prevent a feared outcome. These behaviors can take many different forms, such as repetitive hand-washing, checking and rechecking locks, counting or arranging objects in a specific way, intense research, or seeking reassurance from others. The purpose of the compulsive behavior is to reduce the anxiety or distress caused by the intrusive thought, but the relief is only temporary and often leads to a cycle of repeated compulsions. Over time, these behaviors can become very time-consuming and interfere with daily life and functioning. It's important to note that not everyone with OCD has visible compulsions; some individuals may have primarily mental compulsions such as silently repeating certain phrases or prayers. 

Ok, so how does this impair daily life and functioning? 

 

People with OCD often describe feeling trapped in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions, which can make it hard to focus on anything else. Some people also describe  intense shame, guilt, or embarrassment about their symptoms. It's important to recognize that OCD is not a choice, and that it's not something that can be overcome simply by "trying harder" or "being more disciplined". It's a real medical condition that requires proper diagnosis and treatment.

If this sounds like you, you are not alone. Many people worldwide experience symptoms of OCD. OCD can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background, and it's important to remember that having OCD doesn't mean you're "crazy" or "weird." In fact, many people with OCD are high-functioning and successful in their careers and personal lives, despite their symptoms. One very important takeaway point is that OCD is very treatable. By engaging in therapy for OCD you will learn how to cope with intrusive worries so that you’re not held prisoner by them and disrupt patterns of behavior that have taken over your life. You can find yourself and live your life again. 

Take the first step in feeling better

How will Therapy for OCD help?

Therapy can be an incredibly effective tool in helping those with OCD to disrupt the cycle of obsessions and compulsions. When you begin therapy for OCD you will be in a safe and non-judgmental space. You will develop a trusting, secure, and supportive relationship with your therapist. This space is just for you to share openly about your thoughts, feelings, urges, wins, and struggles. This is especially important if you are feeling ashamed or embarrassed about your symptoms.

 

By working with a therapist, you will gain insight into just how much effort, energy, and distress that the intrusive thoughts and obsessions and then compulsive and compensatory behaviors are causing in your day to day life. With this newfound understanding, you and your therapist can explore what life might look like without the “need” to complete compulsions, and begin to develop coping mechanisms to manage intrusive worries, without feeling held prisoner by them. In therapy, you will learn practical strategies for managing OCD symptoms. You will create a personalized treatment plan that fits your unique needs and goals.

 

Remember, seeking therapy for OCD is a sign of strength and courage - you don't have to face it alone. By seeking help and engaging in therapy, you will gain the support, tools, and techniques to manage your OCD  symptoms. Our therapists will help you strengthen your hope for finding relief, overcoming challenges, and support you in creating a full and meaningful life.

A joyful woman confidently posing with hands on hips in front of a vibrant mural. This image on our OCD specialty page represents the positive transformation that can be achieved through OCD therapy. Discover how our specialized therapy for OCD can provide effective support and guidance on your journey towards managing OCD. Our dedicated counselors offer compassionate OCD counseling, empowering you to overcome obsessions and compulsions, and reclaim your life. Image by Tyler Nix

I have heard of Exposure and Response Prevention for the treatment of OCD, but what is it?

A therapy session focused on OCD treatment, illustrating Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy. This image on our OCD specialty page showcases the active engagement and guidance involved in our effective OCD therapy. Our dedicated counselors provide specialized therapy for OCD, using evidence-based techniques like ERP to help you confront fears, break free from compulsions, and achieve lasting relief. Trust our OCD counseling services to support your journey towards a more fulfilling life.

What is ERP?

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that is specifically designed to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). ERP works by exposing people with OCD to the things they fear or that trigger their obsessions, and then helping them to resist the urge to perform their compulsions. This process helps people with OCD to learn that they can tolerate anxiety and distress without having to perform their compulsions. Over time, this can help to reduce the frequency and severity of their obsessions and compulsions. ERP is one of the most effective treatments for OCD. Studies have shown that ERP can be effective in reducing OCD symptoms by up to 80%. ERP is also a long-lasting treatment, with many people reporting that their symptoms remain in remission for years after completing treatment.

How does ERP help?

ERP helps people to learn that they can tolerate anxiety and distress. 

When people with OCD perform their compulsions, they are essentially rewarding themselves for feeling anxious. This reinforces the anxiety and makes it more likely that they will experience it in the future. ERP helps people to learn that they can tolerate anxiety and distress without having to perform their compulsions. This can help to break the cycle of anxiety and compulsions.

ERP helps people to challenge their negative thoughts.

People with OCD often have negative thoughts about themselves, their environment, or the future. These thoughts can lead to anxiety and compulsions. ERP helps people to challenge these negative thoughts and to develop more realistic and helpful beliefs.

ERP helps people to change their behavior. 

Compulsions are often learned behaviors. ERP helps people to change their behavior by gradually exposing themselves to the things they fear and by resisting the urge to perform their compulsions. This can help to break the cycle of anxiety and compulsions.

What else does ERP help with?

o name a few...

  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD): SAD is a mental health condition that causes people to have a fear of social situations. They may worry about being judged or embarrassed, and they may avoid social situations altogether. ERP can be used to help people with SAD to gradually expose themselves to social situations and to learn to manage their anxiety.

  • Specific phobias: Specific phobias are a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by a fear of a specific object or situation, such as heights, spiders, or public speaking. ERP can be used to help people with specific phobias to gradually expose themselves to the object or situation that they fear and to learn to manage their anxiety.

What are the challenges of ERP?

ERP can be challenging, as it requires people with OCD to face their fears and anxiety head-on. ERP also takes time. ERP can take several months, or more, to complete, depending on the severity of the person's OCD symptoms. However, most people with OCD will see significant improvement in their symptoms within the first few months of therapy. Your therapist will collaborate with you throughout the therapy process. Your therapist will meet you where you are and help guide you through managing distress while learning to tolerance discomfort. 

Three men gathered together, attentively looking at a phone screen. This image on our OCD specialty page represents the collaborative nature of OCD therapy, particularly in the context of Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Discover how our OCD therapy services utilize evidence-based techniques to provide effective support and guidance. Our dedicated counselors offer specialized OCD counseling, working with you to confront fears, break free from compulsions, and find lasting relief.

Uncertain about starting therapy?

Uncertainty about starting therapy is a common concern people have when considering whether or not to treat OCD. Of course attitudes toward therapy vary between people and cultures, but beyond fear there are many valid questions about the use and effectiveness of therapy in resolving OCD. 

No one else could possibly understand what I'm going through.

It's easy to feel like you're alone in your struggles with OCD, but it's important to know that you're not. OCD is actually much more common than you might think - it affects millions of people around the world, and many of them have experienced similar thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to what you're going through.

While it's true that no one else can fully experience exactly what you're experiencing, a trained mental health professional can help you understand and manage your symptoms in a way that's tailored to your unique needs and circumstances. They can work with you to identify the specific challenges you're facing, and help you develop strategies for coping with them.

In therapy, you'll have a safe and supportive space to explore your thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or criticism. Your therapist will be there to listen, to validate your experiences, and to help you develop effective tools and techniques for managing your symptoms. They can also connect you with support groups or other resources in your community, where you can connect with others who are going through similar challenges.

You don't have to go through this alone, and there is help available for you. So if you're feeling isolated or like no one else understands what you're going through, know that you have options, and that there are people who care and who can help.

If I can’t do my compulsions, something bad will happen.

This is a super common and normal fear for people with OCD! Many people feel like they need to perform certain rituals or compulsions in order to prevent something bad from happening. This can create a cycle of anxiety and distress, as you may feel like you're constantly on guard and unable to relax. However, it's important to remember that these fears and beliefs are a common part of OCD, and that they can be managed with the help of a trained mental health professional.

Therapy can help you understand the underlying causes of your OCD symptoms and develop strategies for managing them. Your therapist can work with you to identify the thoughts and beliefs that are driving your compulsions, and help you develop alternative ways of thinking and responding to your fears. They can also help you gradually expose yourself to situations or triggers that normally trigger your OCD symptoms, so you can learn to tolerate the anxiety and resist the urge to perform compulsions.

 

It's important to remember that change won't happen overnight, and that recovery from OCD is a process. However, with patience, persistence, and the right support, you can learn to manage your symptoms and regain control over your life. So if you're struggling with OCD and feeling like you can't do your compulsions, know that help is available and that you don't have to suffer alone.

I'm a bad person for having these thoughts and urges. If I do not listen to them, I am responsible for the bad things that will happen.

The thoughts, feelings, and urges you are experiencing are so strong and overwhelming that it feels that the only way to cope and ease them is to listen to them. It's important to remember that having intrusive thoughts or urges is not a reflection of your character or values. These thoughts are a common symptom of OCD, and are not something that you can control or choose to have. In fact, many people with OCD experience thoughts that are completely opposite of their true desires and beliefs.

It's understandable to feel shame or guilt about these thoughts, but it's important to remember that they do not define who you are as a person. Therapy for OCD can help you learn to recognize these thoughts for what they are - a symptom of a treatable condition - and develop strategies for managing them.

In therapy, you can work with your therapist to challenge the negative beliefs that may be fueling your feelings of guilt or self-doubt. You can learn to reframe these thoughts in a more positive and compassionate way, and develop self-compassion for the challenges that you are facing. With time and practice, you can learn to accept these thoughts without judging yourself or feeling like a bad person.

Remember, seeking help for OCD is a brave and courageous step, and it's a sign of strength, not weakness. You deserve to feel happy, healthy, and fulfilled, and with the right support, you can achieve your goals and overcome your challenges.

There’s no harm in being careful and trying to prevent something terrible from happening.

It's true that being careful and taking steps to prevent bad things from happening can be a good thing. However, when it comes to OCD, these behaviors can actually become harmful when they start interfering with your daily life and causing you significant distress. OCD thoughts will overestimate the likelihood that something bad will happen, and will convince you to give all of your time and energy to prevent this very unlikely outcome. OCD also tricks you into thinking that if something does happen, it will be the worst possible outcome.

OCD is characterized by persistent, intrusive thoughts or urges that can be difficult to control. It's common for people with OCD to engage in compulsive behaviors or rituals as a way of trying to prevent something terrible from happening, but these behaviors can actually end up reinforcing the anxiety and making the symptoms worse.

In therapy, you'll work with a trained mental health professional who can help you develop more effective strategies for managing your symptoms. This may include exposure and response prevention therapy, which involves gradually exposing you to the things that trigger your anxiety and helping you learn to resist the urge to engage in compulsive behaviors.

Remember, seeking help for OCD is a positive step towards taking control of your life and managing your symptoms. With the right treatment and support, you can learn to live a fulfilling life without being controlled by your intrusive thoughts and compulsions.

I'm afraid of being judged or misunderstood in therapy.

Fear of judgment is a common concern, but it's essential to remember that therapy is a safe and confidential space. Our therapists are dedicated to providing a non-judgmental and supportive environment where you can freely express your thoughts and emotions. We approach therapy with empathy and understanding, recognizing that each individual's experiences are unique. The therapeutic relationship is built on trust and respect, ensuring that you can openly explore your feelings without fear of being misunderstood. Our goal is to create a compassionate and caring atmosphere where you can feel heard, validated, and supported throughout your journey to healing.

I don't have the time or money for therapy.

We understand that time and financial constraints can feel like hurdles to accessing therapy. However, investing in your mental well-being is an investment in your overall quality of life. Think of therapy as a positive step toward building a healthier and more fulfilling future. Our approach is flexible and designed to accommodate your schedule and budget. Additionally, many therapy options, including online counseling and reduced fees, are available to make therapy more accessible. Also, we take insurance! Many insurance plans today provide mental health benefits. Taking this step can lead to enhanced emotional resilience, improved coping skills, and a more balanced and rewarding life.

Therapy for OCD provides tools, support, and relief to break free from the grip of obsessions and compulsions. Take control of your journey towards peace of mind

Therapists that Specialize in treating OCD

Julie Gruca female counselor in Chicago Illinois

Therapy in Illinois

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