Our brains produce thousands and thousands of thoughts every day. Some thoughts are factual and true whereas other thoughts are false and unrealistic, causing anxiety and distress.
Do you experience strange thoughts that don’t make sense? Do these pop into your mind when you don’t want them to? Do you worry that these thoughts mean you are a bad person?
These unrealistic thinking processes are at the heart of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, more commonly known as OCD.
The intrusive thoughts that pop into the minds of OCD sufferers can take countless forms, for example concerns about germs, needing things to be order, having sex with an inappropriate person, a need for symmetry, and much much more.
If you experience these thoughts, you may also feel compelled to act on these thoughts to take the stress, shame, or guilt away. Examples of OCD based compulsions include:
• Handwashing and toileting rituals
• Repetitively cleaning
• Ordering or arranging things in a particular way
• Repeatedly checking locks, switches, or appliances
• Constantly seeking approval or reassurance
• Repeated counting to a certain number
At McKinnon Psychology, we use a technique called Exposure and Response Prevention to help you take action and reclaim your life. We will guide you through the initial stages, helping you to develop your own protocol to effectively manage these symptoms in your daily life.
In the first stages, we help you to notice OCD thoughts for what they really are, ‘junk thoughts’ that pop up in your mind, but do not say anything about your morality or integrity as a person.
We then start to ask you to notice the compulsive behaviours (e.g., wash hands, count etc.) you feel compelled to carry out because of the thoughts. We help you to understand that whilst these behaviours bring you relief, they are actually driving your OCD. Finally, we teach you a gradual exposure practice, in which we teach you a strategy to effectively expose yourself to triggers and then resist engaging in compulsive behaviour.
Many people who come to our clinic have never seen a psychologist before, and don’t know what to expect. We’ve answered some of commonly asked questions to help you feel more at ease: