Can Therapy Help with Intrusive Thoughts and OCD?

December 3, 2020

Intrusive thoughts are a less appreciated form of OCD but can be equally crippling. 

OCD can be broken down into two main parts; obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions, often described as intrusive thoughts, are ideas, worries, concerns or images that repeat in your mind. These thoughts are hard to ignored and become all-consuming which causes high levels of anxiety for the sufferer. The compulsive aspect of OCD refers to the repeated activities or rituals that a person develops as a way to try and combat or cancel out the obsessive thoughts. 

Negative thoughts don’t necessarily mean that you have OCD, but if they start impacting your daily life, your relationships and how you feel about yourself then it’s worth seeking help. Depending on the severity of the OCD it can be managed using talking therapies and/or medication. Speaking to a counsellor who specialises in OCD and intrusive thoughts is the first step in taking back control. No case is ‘beyond help’ and equally no case is too insignificant if it becomes intrusive. If intrusive thoughts are affecting your life, then learning how to manage them is key to your wellbeing. 

OCD is often misunderstood. Friends and family can appear dismissive or unsupportive purely because they can’t comprehend the relentless mental turmoil and why the sufferer won’t stop obsessing. That’s why speaking to a counsellor, even before starting a comprehensive treatment plan, can be incredibly comforting to someone suffering intrusive thoughts. Counselor’s understand the nature of OCD, and have proven methodologies they can use to help combat the problem.

In the longer-term counselors may use a variety of talking therapies that have proven effective in managing OCD. Different types, or combinations, may be used depending on the severity of the case and what methods you respond best to. Therapies include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – CBT focuses on how your personal beliefs, ideas and attitudes can affect your emotions and behaviour. 
  • Cognitive therapy - This helps you to identify and learn to adjust any negative feelings about yourself. In turn this allows you to change any unhelpful reactions that you have to those feelings.
  • Exposure and response prevention (ERP) – ERP is specifically designed for OCD. It encourages you to confront your obsessions or intrusive thoughts and resist the desire to carry out compulsions. Whilst it can be challenging to begin with, ERP eventually allows you to accept that uncomfortable feelings will fade without performing a compulsive ritual.

Book an appointment today with one of our specialized counselors and get started with your or your child’s  individualized approach to combating OCD.