What to Expect When Starting Treatment for OCD.
Starting OCD treatment for the first time can be scary. You may be wondering “Do I have to lie on a couch and talk about myself for an hour?”, “What if my thoughts are so crazy that the therapist has never heard anything like this before?” ,“Can I really be fixed?”
So to help give you the extra push you may need to feel confident entering OCD treatment, here is a list of things to expect (and not expect) when you walk through our door.
- Expect a structured hour for each session. The goal of your therapeutic work will not be to have you vent for an hour. You and your therapist will build sessions based upon exploring the impact of OCD on your life and then collaborate to identify behavioral changes to help you manage OCD in a new way. Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) is the proven treatment for OCD. In the simplest of terms ERP is about learning to face your fears and no longer relying on your compulsions to relieve your anxiety. Therapy sessions will focus on designing and implementing ERP experiences that are appropriate for you and where you are in your treatment process.
- Expect that your therapist will NOT be shocked by the content of your thoughts. All thoughts are normal. As human beings we are capable of thinking anything and our brains can venture into even the most “taboo” of topics. In OCD treatment we do not identify the problem as the content of the thought, but rather how your reaction to this thought is keeping you stuck and negatively effecting your life
- For instance, say you are having dinner, look down at your knife and think “ I could stab someone with this.” You are not the only person to ever have this thought but the more you fear the thought and try to stop the thought, the more it will remain in the forefront of your mind. Having a thought is not the same as having intention. Having a thought does not mean you want to or are going to act on the thought. Thoughts are not facts and therapy is here to help you learn that you do not need to run from them.
- Expect to make some adjustments to your definition of being “fixed”. Just as you have been unable to stop or control the thoughts that come into your mind, your therapist cannot do this either. However, your therapist can help you to learn to interact with these thoughts in a new way that allows you to stop being guided by fear and to choose to engage in living a life you value.
The idea of beginning therapy can feel daunting, but you will not be alone in the process. Your therapist is there to help you navigate this new experience and to help you succeed in reaching your goals.