OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Chat Support Group
Psychotherapy and OCD
Traditional psychotherapy, aimed at helping the patient develop insight into his or her problem, is generally not helpful specifically for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptoms themselves. However, it may be of benefit as part of a treatment package for patients who have been ill and isolated for many years or for those whose illness started at an early age. But, behavior therapy consisting of techniques called exposure and response prevention is effective for many people with OCD.
In this approach, the patient with OCD is deliberately and voluntarily exposed to feared objects or ideas, either directly or by imagination (the exposure component), and then is discouraged or prevented (with the patient's permission) from carrying out the usual obsessive-compulsive response. For example, a compulsive hand washer may be urged to touch an object believed to be contaminated, and then may be denied the opportunity to wash for several hours. When the treatment works well, the patient gradually experiences less anxiety from the obsessive thoughts and becomes able to do without the compulsive actions for extended periods of time.
Studies of behavior therapy for OCD have found it to produce lasting benefits. To achieve the best results, a combination of factors is necessary: The therapist should be well-trained in the specific method developed, the patient must be highly motivated and want to help themselves, and the patient's family must be cooperative. In addition to visits to the therapist, the patient must be faithful in fulfilling homework assignments. For those patients who complete the course of treatment, the improvements can be significant.
With a combination of drug and behavioral therapy, the majority of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) patients will be able to function well in both their work and social lives. The ongoing search for causes, together with research on treatment, promises to yield even more hope for people with OCD and their families.
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