Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a real mental health disorder with very real implications. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a method of care that emphasizes individualized treatment for those with a mental health disorder. CBT helps those who participate understand themselves on a foundational level and is very effective in treating those with OCD.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on helping individuals to identify and change negative thinking patterns, behaviors, and emotions. CBT helps people recognize how their thoughts influence their feelings and what they do. It can be used for a variety of conditions, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse.
CBT encourages individuals to become aware of their thoughts and feelings, identify negative patterns, evaluate the accuracy of those patterns, replace them with healthier ways of thinking, and develop coping skills to help them manage difficult situations. Through this process, individuals can gain insight into how their reactions affect their lives and how to make changes that promote healthier thinking patterns.
CBT also involves developing personal goals and strategies for achieving them. This type of therapy is typically short-term, lasting 12–20 sessions, with each session lasting about 50 minutes. It can be conducted in individual or group settings.
Studies have shown that CBT is an effective treatment for a variety of conditions, including anxiety and depression. It can also help individuals develop better coping strategies for managing stress and improving their self-esteem. CBT is often used in combination with medications or other forms of therapy.
The length of time it takes for someone to complete CBT varies depending on the individual and the complexity of the issues they are addressing. Generally, a person may need at least six to eight weeks of weekly sessions before they begin to see real improvement. The length of treatment can also be dependent on the severity of symptoms, motivation, and the competence of the therapist.
CBT typically costs between $75 and $150 per session; this depends on a variety of factors including the location and experience level of the therapist. Insurance plans may cover a portion or all of the cost of CBT with an in-network provider. Those without insurance coverage can find sliding scale options with many therapists. Additionally, some online therapy providers offer CBT at a fixed rate. Before scheduling an appointment, be sure to ask your insurance provider or the therapist what is included in your coverage; it is also important to ask about out-of-pocket costs.
What is OCD?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts, repetitive behaviors, and feelings of extreme anxiety or distress. These obsessions and compulsions can interfere with daily activities and cause significant distress in the individual’s life. People living with OCD often feel overwhelmed by their obsessions and compulsions; they may be embarrassed to talk about these feelings and hide them from family and friends.
Intrusive thoughts are unwanted, involuntary thoughts, images, or unpleasant ideas that may become obsessions, are upsetting or distressing; these can feel difficult to manage or eliminate. Intrusive thoughts can come in many different forms, and may include the following:
- Worrying about the future
- Reliving traumatic events or memories from the past
- Fears of losing control and harming yourself or others
- Intrusive sexual or violent thoughts
Intrusive thoughts can also take the form of obsessive-compulsive behavior. This could include repeatedly checking that you have locked the door or obsessively washing your hands multiple times. Although intrusive thoughts are a normal part of life, they can become overwhelming and interfere with daily functioning if left unchecked.
Common examples of OCD obsessions include excessive fear of contamination, the need for order and symmetry, or unwanted sexual thoughts. Common compulsions include repetitive hand washing, checking things multiple times, and counting or organizing items in a particular way. Other examples of OCD include the following:
- Hoarding behavior (individuals feel compelled to collect and retain items with no purpose)
- Intrusive mental images that are unpleasant and difficult to control
- Excessive fear of making mistakes
- Excessive fear of being judged by others
How Does CBT Work for OCD?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found to be an effective treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). CBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps individuals recognize and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. The goal of CBT is to help people with OCD identify what is causing distress and replace the intrusive thoughts with more adaptive ways of thinking and behaving.
During CBT, a therapist will help the individual identify and modify their distorted thoughts, or “cognitive distortions.” Cognitive distortions involve irrational beliefs that can increase anxiety levels and fuel OCD symptoms. Through CBT techniques such as cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, and response prevention, individuals can learn to challenge these cognitive distortions.
Exposure therapy is a type of psychological treatment that involves exposing the patient to the source of their fear or anxiety in a safe and controlled environment. It is based on the idea that by confronting and exploring what they are afraid of, the patient can learn to manage their fear and anxiety more effectively. Exposure therapy is often used to treat phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorders, and other anxiety-related problems.
Exposure therapy can be effective in helping people to overcome their fear and to manage their symptoms in the long term. The goal of exposure therapy is to reduce the intensity of the anxiety or fear response, and to help the patient to learn more adaptive ways of thinking about, and responding to, the feared stimulus. There are several different types of exposure therapy which may be used depending on the individual’s needs.
Ritual Prevention is a key component of OCD treatment. It involves the individual proactively avoiding situations, thoughts, or behaviors that may trigger their obsessive and compulsive symptoms. The goal of ritual prevention is to help individuals learn how to manage their own triggers; this helps reduce the presence and intensity of OCD-related obsessions and compulsions.
According to a meta-analysis of 10 studies involving over 500 people with OCD, CBT was found to be effective in reducing symptoms of the disorder. After receiving CBT treatment, patients experienced a significant reduction in symptoms such as obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Additionally, patients reported improved functioning and quality of life. Follow-up studies have also found that the effects of CBT for OCD were maintained over long periods of time.
In addition to reducing symptoms, CBT may lead to changes in the brain associated with the disorder. A study found that after 10 weeks of CBT, patients showed increased activity in a brain region associated with cognitive control and reduced activity in a brain region associated with fear and anxiety. These changes suggest that CBT may help to reorganize how the brain processes and regulates thoughts like those associated with OCD.
Are There any Risk Factors with CBT for OCD?
Yes, there are certain risk factors associated with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD. As with any form of treatment, there is no guarantee that someone will respond positively to the therapy. Some potential risks include the following:
- Unforeseen or unexpected reactions from the patient – this could be in the form of increased anxiety, depression, or worse symptoms of OCD.
- Difficulty in finding an experienced therapist – if the wrong type of therapy is employed, it may lead to an unsuccessful outcome or even worsen the condition.
- The patient’s commitment to the therapy – it can take several months or even years to make real progress with OCD, so it requires a great deal of dedication and hard work on the part of both patient and therapist.
- Potential side effects from medications – these could include nausea, drowsiness, changes in appetite, insomnia, or other physical symptoms.
- Inability to overcome the resistance of family members – this could lead to feelings of isolation and frustration.
What are Some at-Home Exercises for OCD?
OCD can be effectively managed through the use of various at-home exercises. These exercises involve relaxation techniques, cognitive restructuring, and exposure response prevention (ERP). Relaxation techniques are a great way to reduce anxiety associated with OCD and help to break the cycle of obsessive thoughts. Examples of relaxation techniques include progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, visualization, and meditation.
Adler Health Can Help Those Struggling with OCD in Orange County
OCD is a serious disorder that can have a severe impact on day-to-day life. However, with appropriate treatment and support, it is possible to gain control over the symptoms and lead a more fulfilling life. At Adler Health, we offer comprehensive treatment programs like cognitive behavioral therapy for those struggling with OCD.
It is important to seek professional help if you are suffering from OCD. With the right support, recovery is possible. If you or a loved one would like to learn more, you can contact us here.