Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterised by recurrent obsessions and compulsions that are severe enough to be time consuming and cause significant impairment and distress. Obsessions are persistent ideas, impulses or images that are experienced as intrusive and cause distress and anxiety. Compulsions are repetitive behaviours and mental acts (hand washing, checking, repeating words, counting, praying, etc.), which aim to reduce anxiety or distress rather than providing pleasure. When suffering from OCD, an individual realises that their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours are irrational- however they are incapable of resisting or not abiding by them.
Counselling and psychotherapy can be extremely beneficial in overcoming OCD. The therapist primarily uses cognitive behavioural techniques to help the client understand the cause of their OCD. It helps them identify thoughts, behaviours and feelings that help them maintain their cycle. The therapist and client together also gain insight on any triggers and precipitators if any.
The therapist then uses exposure and response prevention therapy to help the client overcome their OCD symptoms. Lastly, the therapist teaches the client several safe coping strategies to replace these behaviours and to overcome any depression and anxiety symptoms along with it.