Therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder offers pathways out of unwanted but seemingly unstoppable thoughts and behaviors that can severely affect your daily life. At Full Living: A Psychotherapy Practice, Karen Smith, MSS, LCSW, and the team of therapists have years of experience helping people living in and around Philadelphia, overcome their obsessions and compulsions. To get help and regain control of your life, email or call the office in Center City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition that over-takes your mind with repetitive, intrusive, and unwanted thoughts and feelings called obsessions. Your obsessions create intense anxiety that compels you toward action to relieve the anxiety. The actions you take are called compulsions.

Taking action may give you a temporary reprieve from the obsessive thoughts, but they eventually return. If you manage to stop yourself from doing a compulsive action, your anxiety becomes overwhelming.

Uncontrollable obsessions and compulsions turn into a cycle that comes and goes with varying frequency, depending on the severity of your OCD. In severe cases, sufferers can spend hours every day performing compulsive behaviors.

What types of obsessions occur due to obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Obsessive thoughts can center on literally any topic, but tend to follow a theme, such as:

  • Extreme fear of germs
  • Need to keep things orderly or symmetrical
  • Doubt that you locked the door or turned off the stove
  • Fear of saying something inappropriate
  • Thoughts about harming yourself or others
  • Unwanted or unpleasant sexual images

What types of compulsions occur due to obsessive-compulsive disorder?

When you act out your compulsions, you know they aren’t going to help, yet you feel unable to stop. Examples of compulsions include:

  • Demanding constant reassurance
  • Following a strict routine
  • Repeatedly cleaning and washing, such as hand washing
  • Counting over and over again to be sure you’re right
  • Repeatedly checking to be sure the door is locked, or the stove is off

If your obsession includes needing order or symmetry, you’ll feel compelled to constantly rearrange items in your own home or on your own desk at work, but frequently other peoples’ things too, lest you feel driven mad.

How does the for obsessive-compulsive disorder help?

Psychotherapy offers many methods for gaining freedom from OCD. Some are concrete methods such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) which helps to retrain your brain so you’re able to modify and redirect your thoughts and learn ways to not follow through on your compulsions.

Some methods assume your obsessionality is meaningful and can be unpacked, understood and resolved, rendering the repetitive thoughts and associated behaviors unnecessary.

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