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What kinds of therapy are available for people with OCD?

Sheri Van Dijk
Psychiatry

One of the psychotherapies best known for treating obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). In CBT, a therapist will help you to look at your thinking patterns, and how these are connected to your emotions and behaviors; then, by helping you change one of these you'll learn that you can effect the other two. In other words, by changing your behavior, you can change your thoughts and emotions; by changing your thoughts, you can change your behaviors and emotions; and by changing your emotions, you can change your behavior and thoughts. While CBT is one of the most effective psychotherapies for OCD, it's still not a cure and isn't as effective as we would like it to be.

More recently, we've begun using a skill called mindfulness in the treatment of OCD. Mindfulness is about staying in the present moment, and bringing acceptance to whatever you experience in the present moment. Researchers have found this very useful in the treatment of OCD, because it helps people to detach from their thoughts and see that their thoughts are just thoughts, not facts.

An excellent book that focuses on the use of mindfulness with OCD is Brain Lock by Jeffrey Schwartz. He has done a lot of research on OCD and on the efficacy of using mindfulness and some additional skills to treat this anxiety disorder.

Medications are often used to treat this disorder as well, but again are not a cure and often don't provide the results we would like. Most often, it's a combination of medication and psychotherapy that is the most effective treatment for OCD, but this depends on the severity of the illness.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.