What Is Cognititve Behavioral Therapy for OCD?

Read Transcript

So that the treatment we use for OCD, is within the context of what's called cognitive behavioral therapy. Considered the gold standard treatment for OCD and anxiety disorders. The specific strategy that we use within cognitive behavioral therapy is referred to as exposure response prevention, so we systematically and slowly expose kids to things they're afraid of.

So let's say that you're afraid of I don't know, let's say you are afraid of dogs, and you see a dog, anytime you see a dog on the street, you want to hide or you want to jump into your parent's arms and be carried away and not have to face the dog. And that's true whether it's a little chihuahua in a sweater or it's a big bad German shepherd or something, your response is the same no matter what given the situation, so what we will do in the treatment is we will say OK let's start with easier level tasks and we can talk about how those tasks would be for you to face.

So for example if I said how hard would it be on a scale from 0 to 10, with zero being no problem and 10 being really very, very anxious. How uncomfortable would you be if we looked at pictures of dogs on computer? And you would tell me OK, that would be two out of 10, so we write that down.

Then I would say how about if we looked at videos of dogs on the internet and you say OK, that would be a four out of 10, so you write that down. I'm making now a list of things that I think would be reasonable for us to do in treatment. How about if you and I went outside and we just sat on a corner and we watch dogs from across the street just walking the street, that would be a six.

How about if we walked up to the dogs and didn't pet them but just got closer to them that would be and 8, and then they will be petting a dog would be a 10. So we'll start by working with the lower ones and looking at pictures of dogs over, and over, and over, and over until the trial no longer feels any anxiety.

Just like jumping into the pool and letting yourself get used to the temperature, now we're getting used to the anxiety that comes from looking at pictures of dogs instead of doing the avoidance behavior which is to look away or to not have that experience at all. Then the child will go home and put practice those skills at home.

So the same pictures of dogs that we looked on to at the office, they would take home and look at it home. So that it's not just getting better with my fear in the laboratory setting at someone's office but now actually doing in a real world and doing at home and they'll come back to the next session, we would go to the next step and that next step would be looking at videos of dogs online and watching more and more videos and the child's anxiety will go up but eventually they would kind of reach a peak and then they will get used to their anxiety and it will drop down and we do that over and over and the child will take that home and practice at home and we just kind of work our way along that path until the child feels no anxiety approaching and petting a dog.