Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is OCD?

If you struggle with OCD you experience an “obsession” which is an unwanted thought, mental image, or feeling that will centre around something that is important to you. You perform a “compulsion” which is something you do to get rid of the obsession. Compulsions can be physical actions taken and also actions inside your mind – for e.g. saying a prayer or singing a song.

Some Examples of Obsessions

  • Contamination – these are thoughts around touching germs, or body fluids.
  • Losing control – these are thoughts of hurting yourself or someone you love, a fear of blurting out an insult or swearing in public, or the fear of a violent image that shows up in your mind.
  • Perfectionism – these thoughts that centre on a need for things to be even or exact, a need to know or remember something, or a fear of forgetting important information.
  • Harm – these are thoughts of being responsible for something terrible happening to someone, or a fear of harming others due to carelessness.

Some Examples of Compulsions

  • Washing and cleaning – this would include excessive hand washing, showering, cleaning household items, or doing other actions to prevent contamination.
  • Checking – this might include checking multiple times that you did not make a mistake, or that the door is locked, or checking your physical body repeatedly for signs of illness.  
  • Repeating – this could be doing an action a specific number of times, such as rereading, tapping, or touching something.
  • Mental compulsions – this would include saying a prayer to prevent harm, or counting to a certain number.  

How Can Therapy Help with my OCD?

The good news is that OCD is very treatable. The gold standard for treatment is what is called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). In OCD, an individual will keep performing the compulsions because it provides some short term relief from the obsessions. The issue is that this relief is very short term, and the obsessions will keep coming back. This can leave someone very stuck in a cycle.

In ERP we gradually expose you to what you fear while letting go of the compulsion (this is the response prevention part). Therapy is a collaborative space, and you are always in control of what we are doing. I promise to go at a pace that feels comfortable to you, and will never make you do anything you are not willing or ready to do.