This brief blog will help you or a loved one become aware of a few missteps that can occur when trying to find help for OCD. The primary goal is to find a professional who has the skill to make both an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment for OCD. With OCD we often find that this can be a stressful process.
Problems Interfering With Treatment
Here are several problems that we have found interfere or block connecting with an effective course of treatment for OCD. First, sufferers are sometimes unaware that they have OCD even though they are sure that there is clearly something wrong. Misdiagnosis continues to be an issue with OCD. The sufferer may be stuck in a ritual cycle that they do not know what to do about. They may also be too afraid to stop the rituals. They will avoid treatment because the rituals “feel” safer and they know treatment will challenge that.
The sufferer can also be aware that they have OCD but find it too difficult, embarrassing to admit their specific obsession. For instance, they may be asking themselves “What if I am a pedifile?”, “What if I am gay?” “What if I become violent and harm or kill someone?”
OCD Content can be Endless
The list of possible content for OCD is essentially endless and is produced by an able imagination. Often the sufferers creative nature finds the most powerful and illogical fears that produce tremendous anxiety. Therefore the OCD content presents as uncomfortably odd or grossly illogical and the sufferer would rather suffer the anxiety than the humiliation.
The reasons mentioned above discourages many individuals from seeking treatment. As a result, it can take years to receive an appropriate diagnosis and then additional years to find an effective treatment. This is not an exaggeration one estimate reports that it can take 14-17 years from onset of symptoms to finding appropriate treatment.
You can start by going to www.anxietyocdbala.com/help-with-ocd or any reputable site. Look at the symptoms listed there and decide if you believe these symptoms describe your problem. If you suspect that you do have OCD the next step is to find the right treatment.
Finding appropriate treatment may have its difficulties as well. My hope is that you will use this information to encourage you to continue your search for a treatment that will work even if the search becomes frustrating and stressful.
Problems Finding a Therapist
Here are a couple of issues you may encounter finding a therapist. The number of OCD-treating professionals is growing, but at present there are simply too few therapists who have specific training or adequate experience treating OCD.
Most psychotherapists practice as generalists treating a wide range of mental health problems. If you are using your insurance your provider may say they have an OCD specialist. I recommend that you speak with the individual therapist and find out their experience. It is wise to ask how many and what kind of OCD cases they have treated.
OCD Treatment is Somewhat Different
OCD treatment is somewhat different. While many psychological disorders respond to a generalist approach. Working with OCD we find that the therapist must understand the specifics of the disorder and the treatment strategies that work. A standard generalist psychological approach especially if it is mostly supportive in nature won’t work and it can complicate the problem of OCD by unwittingly providing reassurance. This reassurance unfortunately becomes fuel for OCD rituals keeping a sufferer stuck.
For instance, a supportive approach often utilizes reassurance in an effort to be compassionate. This reassurance is aimed at helping an individual feel better in the short-term. But in the final analysis it stalls their ability to get better in the long-term.
Compassion for a person suffering with OCD means helping them face their worst fears, learning to cope with the fear. Not through reassuring them that nothing bad is likely to happen.
Specialized OCD Treatment is Recommended
While OCD treatment is specialized but it is not complex. It is not beyond the grasp of the general clinical practitioner or sufferer. In fact, learning to do exposure response prevention is not difficult at all. The specialist must understand and have experienced the counter intuitive nature of OCD though. Therapist need to be skilled in helping a sufferer live with significant anxiety. They will also need to help the sufferer learn to cope with their fear.
It is not common knowledge that OCD requires a specialist’s treatment though. In order to have a good treatment outcome it is imperative to find a person who specializes in the treatment of OCD and who has worked with many cases over a long period of time.
Sufferers are Sometimes Not Aware That They Have OCD
Often a sufferer is not aware of the unique nature of their disorder and in desperation will commit to any form of treatment intervention for hope of improvement and relief. To an unexperienced person “therapy is therapy” right? As often happens the individual becomes attached to the therapist, their kindness and understanding. This attachment without appropriate treatment strategies leads to working in an in- affective way that will confound even their best efforts.
E/RP is the First Line Treatment for OCD
On occasion even a seasoned therapist will take on an OCD case believing that their favorite modality can handle the problem. Sufferers seen by an untrained therapist often spend time doing treatments that aren’t helpful. Worse you could ultimately end up believing that they are untreatable because of repeated poor outcomes. Unfortunately, as a result of the difficulties finding and then receiving ineffective treatment, some sufferers simply give up.
Please don’t give up. Perhaps after reading this post you can start or restart your efforts at getting better. Both the AMA and APA recommend exposure response prevention as a first line psychological treatment for OCD. There are people who devote their entire practice to treating OCD and a full range of anxiety disorders.
If you or someone you care about has OCD please start with a search at MSAM or IOCDF.org or ADAA.org. Look for an individual in your area who is qualified and experienced in working with OCD. Good luck and stay strong searching until you find someone. It will be worth it.