Treatment of OCD
As a registered OCD and Anxiety Disorders Hypnosis specialist, one of the main issues I work with is OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder)- using a combination of Cognitive behavioural counselling and Hypnotherapy as an adjunctive therapy, and based on the work of Professor Jeffrey Schwartz and the 4 step programme. I have found this to have the most successful outcomes over the years as it provides people with a way of putting strategies into place in between sessions and without the therapist being present. In my sessions I use a combination of cognitive counselling to begin to address the the symptoms and begin to find ways of putting strategies into place. Hypnotherapy is used to create a calm, relaxed and resourceful state and helps to reduce anxiety symptoms significantly. It is also an excellent refocusing technique when practiced in between sessions.
For further information you can call me or send me an email from my ‘contact me’
You can find a lot of helpful information from ‘OCD Action’ The charity that promotes awareness, understanding, and recovery from OCD and from Anxiety UK.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is the name given to a condition in which people experience repetitive and upsetting thoughts and/or behaviours. OCD has two main features: obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are involuntary thoughts, images or impulses. Common obsessions include, but are not limited to, fears about dirt, germs and contamination; fears of acting out violent or aggressive thoughts or impulses; unreasonable fears of harming others, especially loved ones; abhorrent, blasphemous or sexual thoughts; inordinate concern with order, arrangement or symmetry; inability to discard useless or worn out possessions; and fears that things are not safe, (e.g. household appliances). The main features of obsessions are that they are automatic, frequent, upsetting or distressing,and difficult to control or get rid of.
Just as with obsessions, there are many types of compulsions. It is common for people to carry out a compulsion in order to reduce the anxiety they feel from an obsession.
Common compulsions include observable actions such as excessive washing and cleaning, checking, repeatedly touching, counting, arranging and ordering, hoarding, ritualistic behaviours that lessen the chances of provoking an obsession (e.g. putting all sharp objects out of sight) and acts which reduce obsessional fears (e.g. wearing only certain colours).
Compulsions can also be mental rituals that are not observable. These include repeating words or phrases, counting, or saying a prayer. Again, not all types of compulsion are listed here. The main features of compulsions are they are repetitive and stereotyped actions that the person feels forced to perform.
People can have compulsions without having obsessional thoughts but, very often, these two occur together. Carrying out a compulsion reduces the person’s anxiety and makes the urge to perform the compulsion again stronger each time.
Almost everybody experiences the type of thoughts that people with OCD have (e.g. wanting to double-check the front door or the gas). However, most people are able to dismiss these thoughts.
People with OCD cannot ignore unpleasant thoughts and pay undue attention to them. This means that the thoughts become more frequent and distressing and, over time, they can affect all areas of a person’s life, often their job and their family and social life. A person with OCD can, however, appear to function perfectly normally despite being greatly distressed. This often makes it possible for people with OCD to hide their OCD (because of this, OCD has often been called the ’secretive disorder’).
It is important to remember that severity of OCD differs markedly between people but each person’s distress is very real. People with OCD are not ‘mad’ or dangerous and do not carry out their unpleasant thoughts. Most people with OCD know that their thoughts are excessive or irrational but the anxiety they feel makes the thoughts difficult to ignore.
OCD is much more common than was previously thought. Prevalence estimates suggest that 2-3 per cent of the UK population has OCD. One reason why the prevalence of OCD has been underestimated in the past is that people with OCD are often afraid to seek help. They worry that other people will think they are mad, and often do not know that their disorder is a recognised condition with effective treatments. Young people also suffer from OCD. In fact, many adults with OCD had symptoms in childhood.
The cause of OCD is much debated but it is likely to result from a combination of factors in addition to this the cause for one person may differ from that for another. OCD can run in families and, in some cases, may be associated with an underlying biochemical imbalance in the brain.
Psychological factors such as susceptibility to stress or exposure to an emotionally traumatic experience are also likely to be in evidence. The good news is that, for the majority, OCD can be effectively controlled and treated.
For further information about OCD and OCD awareness week 7-13 February 2011 visit the OCD Action website at www.ocdaction.org.
“Purely Obsessional OCD”
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Purely Obsessional Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (also called Pure Obsessional OCD, Pure-O, OCD without overt compulsions or Primarily Obsessional OCD) is a lesser-known form or manifestation of OCD. For people with Purely Obsessional OCD, there are usually no observable compulsions, such as those commonly seen in those with the typical form of OCD (checking, counting, hand-washing, etc.). While ritualizing and neutralizing behaviors do take place, they are almost entirely in the form of excessive mental rumination.”
Notes and references
“Anxiety UK is a national registered charity formed 40 years ago by a sufferer of agoraphobia for those affected by anxiety disorders. Today we are still a user-led organisation, run by sufferers and ex-sufferers of anxiety disorders, supported by a high-profile medical advisory panel.
Anxiety UK works to relieve and support those living with anxiety disorders by providing information, support and understanding via an extensive range of services, including 1:1 therapy. We work regularly with external agencies and healthcare professionals to improve services for those living with anxiety disorders. We also campaign to raise awareness of anxiety disorders.
We can provide support and help if you’ve been diagnosed with, or suspect you may have an anxiety condition. We can also help you deal with specific phobias such as fear of spiders, blushing, vomiting, being alone, public speaking, heights – in fact, any fear that’s stopped you from getting on with your life.
With our help you can start to recover your confidence and forget your fear.
We can also offer information and services to professional health care workers (GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers etc.) working, or interested in the area of anxiety disorders.”
I have been a keen supporter of this excellent organisation for many years and have recently joined the board of trustees to support their work further.
For further information about the work of Anxiety UK you can visit their website at
A very useful introduction and self help book is ‘Brain lock’ by Jeffrey M Schwartz, MD. It includes the four step programme pioneered by Professor Schwartz at UCLA The cognitive 4 step behavioural programme is incorporated in my therapy work with clients suffering from OCD and has produced beneficial results. ISBN 0-06-098711-
‘Obsessive compulsive disorder’ second edition by Dr Frederick Toates and Dr Olga Toates. This is an excellent introduction also, but includes a personal biography as Dr Toates himself has OCD. This book is informative and easy to read. ISBN 1-85959-069-1
Dr Toates teaches the Biology module of the BSc Psychology degree with the Open University.
I have had the privilege of hearing both of the above authors speak and have met them.