toll free: 844.955.3042
local tel: 561.464.6505
fax: 561.450.6637

RECO Intensive
140 NE 4th Avenue
Delray Beach, FL 33483

Finding Relief from OCD

From rhythmic tapping to a bedtime ritual, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder could be a significant part of your life. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH),  Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is defined as a chronic disorder that revolves around uncontrolled recurring thoughts and behaviors where one  feels the need to repeat to “completion”. Some obsessions could include germ avoidance, inappropriate thoughts and patterns, aggressive thoughts, complete symmetry, and taboo avoidance. Certain behaviors, i.e. compulsions, could include excessive cleaning, excessive arranging, and excessive tapping or rhythmic routine. OCD sufferers could spend more than an hour obsessing over these behaviors each day, and often do it to temporarily relieve stress, rather than get joy from the completion of the behavior. For those in recovery, OCD can make it impossible to take a break from addictive tendencies and obsessive thoughts. Since medication may not be advised for those in recovery, it can be mentally exhausting trying to keep up with the signals your brain sends, as well as physically exhausting from compulsions. Thankfully, there are methods of breaking your ties with obsessive tendencies that don’t involve medication, and you can try them from home with a trusted person.

Exposure Therapy, and Ritual Prevention

EX/RP: Exposure and Ritual Prevention is known as one of the more successful therapies for OCD. Exposure Therapy and Ritual Prevention is meant to curb the urge to complete an obsessive thought or compulsive action. This is done by using soft exposure to triggers for the patient and learning to resist the urge to complete the action or thought. This practice uses repetition of resisting these triggers and the understanding that one can honor the thought, without fulfilling the action.

There are several components to Exposure Therapy and Ritual Prevention: 

  • Exposure: This means direct exposure to a trigger and direct resistance to reacting or completing the compulsive thoughts or behaviors the patient associate it with. Triggers can range from slightly-stressful cues to highly-stressful cues. For example, a patient would touch a public sink handle or doorknob, resisting the urge to sanitize everything. The object of this exercise is to progress to be able to handle the highly-stressful triggers. 
  • Imaginal Exposure: Imaginal exposure is an exercise where the patient talks through a stressful situation to completion. This should expose how their mind jumps from one thought to the next, and what the fear is at the end of it. Some of these scenarios allow for the exposure of an underlying anxiety found within obsessive thoughts. These scenarios should be validated for the patient to see that their fears and obsessive thoughts are often not rooted in reality, and can be talked through. 
  • Ritual Prevention: Ritual Prevention is invoked after Exposure. The patient is asked to not complete whatever ritual they associate with a trigger. As they practice and talk it through, the patient realizes that they are safe and that the feared consequence for not completing the ritual will not happen. 
  • Processing: Processing means the patient has the opportunity to talk through this experience before and after they confront their triggers. This helps the patient to observe their thinking process and honor their successes in the therapy session and everyday life. 

An issue with Exposure Therapy and Ritual Prevention is that it can be intimidating for patients, and therefore they’ll choose not to continue. It could feel too scary for a patient to try this with a trusted adult from home. That’s okay because there are other options for OCD relief. 

Cognitive Therapy

Another form of therapy that is beneficial for OCD is Cognitive Therapy. Cognitive Therapy is designed to specifically honor the thoughts, and expose to the patient how those thoughts jump to unrealistic proportions. The brain is continually trying to protect the patient with OCD, and honoring that thought and underlying anxiety can give new meaning to the fear, without allowing the obsessive or outrageous thoughts to continue.

There are a few steps of Cognitive Therapy: 

  • Developing awareness for the obsession begins with writing down the obsessive thoughts in a journal, and continuing the thought as far as it goes. These recorded thoughts can help establish triggers or meanings behind the thought.
  • Review and analysis begin when the therapist or trusted adult goes through the thought journal with a patient and verbally challenges the distorted beliefs or obsessions. The patient is then able to think critically about their obsession.
  • Behavioral experiments are the last step for Cognitive Therapy. A therapist or trusted adult will assign an action that contradicts a patient’s obsession or compulsive thought, and together they will wait and talk through the outcome. This results in an understanding that patients can face their fears head-on. 

If you are someone in recovery who is also suffering from OCD, you are not alone. There are methods to find relief from obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions. If you feel your actions are out of control, or your fears instigate hours of trauma, there are ways to help you stay sober and clear-minded. At RECO Intensive, we understand your need for OCD relief, and we’re here to help you. RECO Intensive offers therapy and a controlled, holistic, and safe setting to address your unique needs. Therapists, counselors, and alumni are there to guide you through your sobriety and help you better understand your OCD through our extensive list of therapeutic styles. Your journey is our priority, and at RECO Intensive, we’re here to help you see what obstacles you’ve overcome, and what new goals we can assist you in achieving. For more information, call RECO Intensive at (561) 464-6533 to talk to us about your needs, and your journey through recovery. 

Recent Articles

Discover a better life and call our recovery helpline today.