Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Whether you struggle with intrusive thoughts and images, engage in compulsions and rituals that are taking over your life, or both, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) causes significant distress. The problem with compulsions and rituals is that they only briefly relieve anxiety, and then the anxiety returns and grows in intensity. The more you engage in the rituals, the worse the anxiety gets. If your rituals continue to increase, you may develop new strategies and rituals for managing your anxiety. The cycle grows and escalates: the more you use the rituals to cope with the anxiety, the worse the anxiety gets.

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It is important to understand the underlying root/function of the problem. Underneath the symptoms of OCD is an intense fear of uncertainty and the unknown, and an urgent yearning to create predictability, certainty, and safety.

The evidence-based treatment of choice for OCD is exposure and response prevention. Utilizing exposure and response prevention in our treatment may require us to do in vivo exposure, which involves facing the real-life situations that cause anxiety for you. In this form of exposure treatment, your therapist will go with you to the feared location or situation–for example, driving on a bridge together, going to a crowded shopping mall, or visiting a dog park–and provide you with the coaching you need in the moment. (This is called therapist-assisted exposure.) This will help you learn the tools to cope more effectively with your anxiety. Practicing exposure in the real world is the most effective and efficient way to overcome OCD.

What are the signs?

You may excessively engage in one or more of these behaviors:

  • Excessive hand washing
  • Excessive grooming
  • Excessive organizing and ordering of possessions in a particular way
  • Repeatedly double-checking things
  • Accumulating items
  • Praying excessively
  • Engaging in ritualistic behaviors, such as counting, tapping, or using mantras
  • Engaging in excessive superstitious behaviors

We can help you:

  • Learn strategies for managing your anxiety and obsessions
  • Decrease compulsions and rituals
  • Learn new ways to relate to your obsessions
  • Build effective and meaningful relationships
  • Identify your values and what you want your life to be about
  • Develop techniques for overcoming obstacles to living your values
  • Cultivate kindness, compassion, and acceptance through mindfulness training
  • Take steps toward what matters


Click here to take an OCD questionnaire