Can Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Help Treat OCD?

Can Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Help Treat OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of mental disorder that is characterized by obsessions with or without compulsion, which are irrational and highly stressful. This disorder tends to impact the quality of life of a person significantly.

Previously, OCD was thought to be non-treatable as both psychotherapy and medications did not succeed in improving OCD symptoms. However, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) proved to be a breakthrough in the treatment of OCD.

What is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive behavioural therapy encompasses a wide range of therapy techniques designed to help individuals cope with and transform their problematic thoughts, behaviours, and emotions.

How is CBT helpful for individuals with OCD?

During CBT for OCD, the therapist aims to break two types of associations that are unique to people affected with this disorder. This treatment is a specialized form of CBT called Exposure and Ritual Prevention.

The first association is between distress and objects, situations, or thoughts that produce distress. Another association is between carrying out ritualistic (or compulsive) behaviour and decreasing distress.

This CBT treatment helps break the link or bond between the feelings of distress and ritual behaviours. It also helps you not to ritualize when you are anxious.

There are three components of Exposure and Ritual Prevention therapy:

  • In vivo exposure: During this exposure, an individual is repeatedly exposed to an environment that contains a feared stimulus for a prolonged period.  (for example, actual contact with contaminants)
  • Imaginal exposure: During imaginal exposure, an individual visualizes a feared stimulus and its consequences in his/her mind. (for example, thinking about leaving the door open and then imagining the break-in by burglars)
  • Ritual or response prevention: It involves refraining from the ritualistic behaviour after an individual is exposed to the feared stimulus. (for example, leaving the kitchen and touching the floor without washing their hands)

There are also various other ways to treat OCD with CBT, such as:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Cognitive Restructuring

Is CBT an effective treatment for OCD?

Yes. Cognitive behavioural therapy has helped thousands of people learn to manage their OCD. In fact, it is the only method that has been successful in showing improvements in OCD symptoms. Research has revealed that about 75 per cent of patients who seek CBT for OCD find it to be effective in treating the disorder.

There are no risks associated with CBT for OCD. CBT not only helps decrease the severity of OCD symptoms but also helps improve overall functioning, reduce the risks that are associated with OCD, and quality of life.

How long does CBT for OCD take?

The duration of CBT therapy for OCD depends on individuals and the severity of their symptoms. The standard treatment of OCD with CBT takes about 12 weeks with one hour-long session every week. The result and effectiveness can take time based on the specific OCD problem and other mental health concerns an individual is dealing with.

Are you looking forward to getting relief from your OCD symptoms through CBT therapy in London? Book an appointment with a BABCP-accredited therapist now.

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