It is very important to find a therapist trained in ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention) and/or ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) to treat OCD symptoms. This is because traditional therapeutic approaches that might focus on skills like relaxation or reframing in an effort to 'control' symptoms can actually make OCD worse.
Through research, we have found ERP to be the gold standard treatment to successfully manage the distress and to stop the compulsives. Although it may seem like a paradox, we have found that engaging in the compulsions themselves actually make the anxiety and obsessions worse. ERP teaches the brain to tolerate the distress of the obsessions so much so that eventually the brain becomes desensitized (I know it might seem impossible - but one fundamental truth about human neurobiology is that the brain can eventually get 'bored' of almost anything if exposed to it enough!). The attempt to escape the distress of the obsessions through compulsions reinforces intensity of OCD.
Currently, Dr. Ali Iverson is the only provider who is trained in ERP and ACT for OCD treatment.
Here are treatment steps:
Step 1: Complete a 55 minute intake interview.
Step 2: Your therapist will work with you to learn about the biology and patterns associated with OCD, will discuss the rationale for treatment, and will help you understand the treatment structure.
Step 3: Your therapist will introduce self-monitoring and will create a hierarchy of exposures with you. You will also work on creating something called an acceptance script.
Step 4: You will work with your therapist through the hierarchy of exposures. Commitment to the therapy is essential - your therapist will work with you to identify possible secondary gains or other therapy interfering behaviors as necessary.
Step 5: You will work on self-exposure at home under the guidance of your therapist.
Step 6: Continue this process and address relapse prevention.
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