If your first thought about the title was, “That sounds boring.” you might be right. But if you knew that over 2 million Americans were affected and afflicted by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and chances are you know at least one of these people, then you might be more intrigued.

But what the heck is CBT?? Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy…and it’s one of the more effective and efficient methods to treat OCD.
Let’s start with a little background information. Here’s what a few people who’ve been stricken by OCD have said:

“I couldn’t do anything without rituals. They invaded every aspect of my life. Counting really bogged me down. I would wash my hair three times as opposed to once because three was a good luck number and one wasn’t. It took me longer to read because I’d count the lines in a paragraph. When I set my alarm at night, I had to set it to a number that wouldn’t add up to a ’bad’ number.”

“I knew the rituals didn’t make sense, and I was deeply ashamed of them, but I couldn’t seem to overcome them until I had therapy.”

“Getting dressed in the morning was tough, because I had a routine, and if I didn’t follow the routine, I’d get anxious and would have to get dressed again. I always worried that if I didn’t do something, my parents were going to die. I’d have these terrible thoughts of harming my parents. That was completely irrational, but the thoughts triggered more anxiety and more senseless behavior. Because of the time I spent on rituals, I was unable to do a lot of things that were important to me.”

People with OCD have persistent, upsetting thoughts – obsessions - and use rituals – compulsions - to try to control the anxiety these thoughts produce. Most of the time, however, the rituals end up controlling the person.

For example, if people are obsessed with germs or dirt, they may develop a compulsion to wash their hands over and over again. If they develop an obsession with intruders, they may lock and relock their doors many times before going to bed. Being afraid of social embarrassment may prompt people with OCD to comb their hair compulsively in front of a mirror and sometimes they get “caught” in the mirror and can’t move away from it. Performing such rituals is not pleasurable. At best, it produces only temporary relief from the anxiety created by obsessive thoughts.

Other common rituals include the need to repeatedly check things, touch things (especially in a particular sequence), or count things. Some common obsessions include having frequent thoughts of violence and harming loved ones, persistently thinking about performing sexual acts the person dislikes, or having thoughts which are prohibited by religious beliefs. People with OCD may also be preoccupied with order and symmetry, have difficulty throwing things out (so they accumulate), or hoard unneeded items.

Just so you know healthy people also have rituals, such as checking to see if the stove is off several times before leaving the house. The difference is that people with OCD perform their rituals even though doing so interferes with daily life and they find the repetition distressing. Although most adults with OCD recognize that what they’re doing is senseless, some adults and most children may not realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary.

OCD can be accompanied by eating disorders, other anxiety disorders, or depression. It strikes men and women in roughly equal numbers and usually first appears in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood. One-third of adults with OCD develop symptoms as children, and research indicates that OCD might run in families.

The course of the disease is quite varied. Symptoms may come and go, ease over time, or get worse. If OCD becomes severe, it can keep a person from working or carrying out normal responsibilities at home. People with OCD may try to help themselves by avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions, or they may use alcohol or drugs to calm themselves.

OCD usually responds well to treatment with specific specialized psychotherapy and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has proven to be especially effective. CBT is a form of psychotherapy which had its basis on the important role of thinking in how we feel and what we do.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things, like people, situations, and events.

The benefit of this fact is that we can change the way we think to feel / act better even if the situation does not change. Think of it as operating your life from the inside-out, rather than being controlled from the outside-in. Effective use of CBT will help you improve your self-esteem (regardless of the ailment or diagnosis) and feel more empowered.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is considered among the most rapid in terms of results obtained. The average number of sessions clients receive (across all types of problems and approaches to CBT) is only 16, where as other forms of therapy, like traditional psychoanalysis, can take many years.

CBT therapists believe that the clients change because they learn how to think differently and they act on that learning. Therefore, CBT therapists focus on teaching rational self-counseling skills. This is especially useful in the treatment of OCD.

A person struggling with OCD can expect a therapist to ask a number of exploratory questions and create a “hierarchy” of fears and anxieties early in the therapeutic process. This would be a list of the least to most anxiety producing situations or thoughts. The therapist and the client would then generally begin with the least anxiety producing situation and work towards the most. Through a series of cognitive interventions, relaxation training and gradual action steps which expose the client little-by-little to more and more of the anxiety, the client will begin to have positive results in a relatively short period of time.

So, putting a little CBT into OCD isn’t so boring after all, and now you’ll not only better understand those whom you know you’ve struggled with OCD, but you may also be able to point them in the direction of effective therapeutic results.

Author's Bio: 

I provide mental health counseling, marriage counseling and relationship counseling to help professionals and their families eliminate stress, maximize success and create extraordinary relationships at home, at work and in the community. As a mental health counselor, marriage counselor and relationship counselor my number one goal is to help people live their lives and relationships fully and completely. I've been offering counseling, coaching, and educational programs since 1987. My programs are focused on empowering people to have more successful lives, businesses and relationships. You'll always find FREE Life and Relationship Success Special Reports at http://kendonaldson.com/. I'm also the author of Marry YourSelf First! Say "I DO" to a Life of Passion, Power, Purpose and Prosperity http://www.marryyourselffirstbook.com/