Exposure/Response Prevention (E/RP), a specialized form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is the treatment of choice for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
In the United States, about 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children have OCD. When applied consistently over time, E/RP helps people free themselves from the intense anxiety that is the hallmark of this disorder.
OCD is like a false alarm in the brain. A danger signal is sent out but nothing dangerous is actually happening. Obsessions are extreme worries and concerns that create the emotional and physical pain of anxiety. Sometimes, compulsions are rituals people use to make anxiety go down, such as excessive hand washing. Alternatively, compulsions can be strategies people use to avoid anxious feelings arising, such as keeping different foods separated on a dinner plate. The struggle to manage or avoid anxiety can be time consuming and exhausting. E/RP offers strategies that actually quiet the worry circuit in the brain.
The treatment is straightforward but challenging: Invite the anxiety to show up (exposure), but do not react in the usual way (response prevention). Simply stated, experiencing the anxiety while utilizing the tools of E/RP permits the emotion to wear itself out. The brain learns that it does not have to do a ritual or avoid an anxiety triggering situation. In time, anxiety will diminish by itself or just not show up.
We begin treatment with a very thorough assessment of obsessions and compulsions. The work is paced to each client’s ability. This individualized approach allows plenty of time for learning and building confidence. OCD is treatable.
If you would like to learn more about E/RP, please contact me!