Understanding OCD and Learned Behaviours. Counselling for Lasting Change.

Have you ever found yourself caught in a repetitive cycle of handwashing, door checking or over focussing, driven by an unshakable urge to ensure cleanliness or other problematic behaviours as a result of anxiety?

Perhaps you’ve experienced persistent, irrational fears of unintentional harm to yourself or others, despite no evidence to support such concerns. Some individuals also struggle with an overwhelming compulsion to continually rearrange their surroundings.

If any of these scenarios resonate with you, it’s possible that you’re experiencing an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly known as OCD. However, it’s essential to recognise that you’re not alone, and there is a pathway to relief and behaviour change.

OCD counseling, is a highly effective therapeutic approach designed to offer professional guidance and support to individuals struggling with OCD. We will discuss the origins of the behaviour and you will understand why it”s happening and how to change it step by step.

I have worked with children and adults with OCD ADHD ADD and may other forms of learned behaviours, remember, anything learned can also be unlearned.

A man suffers from OCD washing his hands with soap.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or (OCD) is known as a mental illness which is usually related and associated with anxiety. People who are anxious often display repetitive actions. A person with OCD may manage to hide their behaviour for some quite some time and from most people, but people close may see agitation and frustrations as a giveaway.

Obsessive compulsive disorder can be mild or it may have a major impact on the sufferers life. Almost always, untreated OCD will get worse and more and more obsessive behaviours will impact on the person living with OCD.

If you have had problems with anxiety for some time and you have not talked to someone about it, you will almost certainly have some repetitive obsessive compulsive disorder type behaviours, even if you are not aware of them.

Let’s explore the meaning of obsession and compulsion in OCD:

Obsession: An unwanted, unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters a person’s mind, causing them to feel anxious. Obsessions can often be positive and enjoyable, but in the case of obsessive compulsive disorder the obsessions are often unpleasant and disruptive to a healthy well-being and often scary for the sufferer.

Compulsion: A mental thought which is powerful and must be acted upon. The OCD sufferer may feel they have no choice but to act on the thought they have, no matter how hard they try to avoid the repetitive behaviour, it can become life controlling.

Certainly, here’s an expanded list of common OCD behaviors:

Excessive Hand Washing: Frequent and prolonged handwashing, often with an intense focus on cleanliness, even when hands appear to be clean.

Harm Obsessions: Overwhelming fears of accidentally causing harm to oneself or others, even in situations where the risk is minimal or non-existent.

Checking Compulsions: Repeatedly checking and rechecking doors, windows, appliances, or locks to ensure they are secure, leading to significant time consumption and distress.

Excessive Caution: Taking extreme precautions in everyday activities, such as driving slowly and cautiously or avoiding situations perceived as risky, even if there’s no logical basis for these fears.

Constant Rearranging: Continuously rearranging objects, furniture, or belongings in a specific way or pattern to achieve a sense of order or symmetry, often to an excessive and time-consuming extent.

Short-Term Decorating: Frequently redecorating or making changes to the appearance of one’s surroundings, often driven by the need for perfection or an aversion to imperfections.

Counting Rituals: Engaging in repetitive counting of objects, steps, or actions, with the belief that specific numbers have special significance or can prevent harm.

Hoarding: Accumulating an excessive number of items, often due to an inability to discard possessions, leading to clutter and significant distress.

Mental Rituals: Performing mental compulsions, such as repeating specific phrases or prayers, or mentally reviewing past events to prevent harm or neutralize distressing thoughts.

Ordering and Symmetry: A strong need for order, symmetry, or exactness in various aspects of life, including arranging items meticulously or aligning objects precisely.

Fear of Contamination: An irrational fear of germs or contamination, leading to avoidance behaviors, excessive cleaning, or elaborate sanitization rituals.

Repeating Actions: Repeating actions, words, or behaviors until they feel “just right,” often triggered by intrusive thoughts or a sense of incompleteness.

Superstitions: Adherence to specific rituals or superstitious behaviors, such as avoiding certain numbers or engaging in specific actions to prevent negative outcomes.

These are some of the common behaviors associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It’s important to note that individuals with OCD may experience a combination of these behaviors to varying degrees, and the condition can significantly impact their daily lives and well-being.

OCD is a very serious disorder, it can raise levels of stress to dangerous levels, it can isolate sufferers from friends and family because of the fear of their behaviours being identified. For this reason it can be very difficult to live a fully functioning life.

People suffering with OCD may have their own unique compulsions and behaviours, but there are cycles of behaviours, often the pattern may be something like this:

The Obsession: Your mind may be overwhelmed by a constant obsessive fear, thought or worry, such as you must shower after using the toilet or wash your hands repeatedly

The Anxiety: This obsession may create a feeling of intense anxiety or distress which feels overwhelming

The Compulsion: You may adopt a pattern of compulsive behaviours to reduce your anxiety and distress, such as taking a shower or repeatedly washing your hands several times, worrying whether you managed to get them clean.

The Temporary relief: The compulsive behaviour (washing hands or showering) reduces the stress and anxiety but the obsession and anxiety soon return, causing the cycle to begin again, it may feel like whatever you do – it isn’t enough.

There are some factors that cause OCD as follow:

Family Connection: Sometimes, OCD can run in families. This suggests that there might be something in our genes (the stuff we inherit from our parents) that can make us more likely to have OCD. However, just because it’s in your family doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get it.

Brain Chemicals: Our brains use special chemicals to talk to each other, and one of them is called serotonin. People with OCD might have a bit of an issue with this serotonin stuff. It can affect how they feel and how they deal with worries, possibly making them more likely to have OCD.

Life Experiences: Sometimes, tough life experiences or a lot of stress can also make OCD more likely to show up. It’s a bit like when you’re already feeling down, and then something else makes you even more anxious.

Learning from Others: This one is interesting. If you spend a lot of time with someone who has OCD, you might pick up some of their habits and worries without even realising it. It’s a bit like learning from the people around you.

Brain Differences: When we look at the brains of people with OCD, we notice that some parts of their brains work a little differently. These brain differences can be part of why they have OCD symptoms.

So, in simple terms, OCD can come from a mix of things: your genes, how your brain works, what’s happened to you in life, who you spend time with, and how you learn from others. It’s a bit like a puzzle with many pieces, and for each person, the pieces might fit together differently.

Coping with OCD involves a combination of self-help strategies and, often, professional guidance. Here are some practices you can try to help manage your OCD:

Educate Yourself: Understanding OCD is the first step. Learn about the disorder, its symptoms, and how it affects you personally. Knowledge can empower you.

Seek Professional Help: Consult a mental health professional, preferably one experienced in treating OCD, such as a therapist or psychiatrist. They can provide tailored guidance and treatment options.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Consider CBT, specifically Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). This therapy helps you confront your obsessive thoughts gradually and resist the compulsions, reducing their power over you.

Medication: Some individuals benefit from medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which can help balance brain chemicals like serotonin.

Set Realistic Goals: recognise that recovery is a process, and improvements may take time. Set achievable goals for yourself and celebrate your progress.

Challenge Obsessive Thoughts: Practice questioning the validity of your obsessive thoughts. Ask yourself if they are based on facts or fears. This can help you gain perspective.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Techniques like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce anxiety and provide a sense of calm.

Structured Routine: Establish a daily routine that includes self-care activities, exercise, and social interactions. A structured day can help manage anxiety.

Journaling: Keep a journal to track your obsessive thoughts, compulsions, and triggers. This can help you identify patterns and work with your therapist more effectively.

Support System: Share your struggles with trusted friends or family members who can offer emotional support and encouragement. Sometimes, just talking about your challenges can be relieving.

Gradual Exposure: Under the guidance of a therapist, gradually expose yourself to situations that trigger your OCD without engaging in compulsions. This helps desensitize your anxiety.

Distraction Techniques: Engage in activities that divert your attention away from obsessive thoughts, like hobbies, exercise, or listening to music.

Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself and avoid self-criticism. Remember that having OCD is not your fault, and you are doing your best to manage it.

Join a Support Group: Consider joining an OCD support group, either in person or online. Connecting with others who understand your struggles can be comforting.

Remember that it’s okay to seek professional help and that you don’t have to cope with OCD on your own. A combination of therapy, medication (if necessary), and self-help strategies can significantly improve your quality of life and help you manage your OCD effectively.

Depending on how severe your OCD is or how much it affects your ability to function in your life, will somewhat dictate the treatment you will benefit best from. Talking Treatments or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) a type of counselling which is very beneficial in treating OCD by helping the sufferer to change how they think and behave, talking to a therapist online may help if the sufferer worries about being outside of their home or is not comfortable in public places.

Sometimes for people with severe symptoms of OCD a combination of counselling and medication may be most effective, anti-depressants or a selective serotonin uptake inhibitor (SSRIs) are sometimes used to treat severe cases of OCD, these can be prescribed by your GP.

If left untreated obsessive compulsive disorder can result in severe disruption to your ability to fully function, it can and often does send the sufferer into a deep depression, so the best thing to do is to talk to a counsellor and explore whether medication is also needed, alternatively, make an appointment to see your GP and ask for his opinion.

OCD counseling, short for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder counseling, is a specialized form of therapy designed to help individuals who struggle with OCD. OCD is a mental health condition characterised by persistent and distressing obsessions (unwanted, intrusive thoughts) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors or mental acts performed to alleviate anxiety).

In OCD counseling, individuals work with trained therapists or counselors who are knowledgeable about the intricacies of the disorder. The primary goal of this counseling is to provide support, guidance, and effective strategies to manage and alleviate OCD symptoms.

In Simple Terms:

OCD counseling is like having a coach or guide who helps people dealing with OCD. These counselors are experts in understanding and dealing with OCD, which is when someone has lots of worries that make them do things repeatedly. The counselor’s job is to talk with you, listen to your concerns, and teach you helpful ways to handle those worries and stop the repetitive actions. It’s like having a friend who knows how to help you feel better and less stressed because of OCD.

I’m Paul Parkin – A therapist and life coach. This is why you should work with me:

Paul Parkin Online CounsellorI’ve worked with people who have OCD for years, both in-person and online. I’ve helped thousands of clients dealing with issues that relate to OCD.

By addressing underlying life problems connected to the obsession and compulsion, I’ve supported clients in living healthier lives. Successful treatment involves tackling these underlying issues, often tied to our past experiences. I’m here to help you find closure and recovery.

What some of my recent clients have said about our work together.

‘I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for the incredible help and support Paul has provided me in my journey to cope with OCD. At 35 years old, I was struggling with incessantly rearranging furniture and feeling anxious when things weren’t in perfect order. It was affecting my daily life and overall well-being.

Discovering Paul’s guidance and expertise online was a turning point for me. Paul not only educated me about the causes of my OCD but also equipped me with practical tools and strategies to overcome it. His patience and understanding made me feel heard and supported throughout our sessions.

Today, I am in a much better place. Things are more manageable, and I’ve gained a greater sense of control over my life. This positive transformation is all thanks to your unwavering dedication to helping people like me find relief from OCD. I can’t thank Paul enough for his invaluable assistance.’

Pete. USA.
June 2017.

Paul is a compassionate and generous counsellor who lower his fee to an affordable price to help others meet their needs in a humanistic approach. He always listen and have good advice for me when I need guidance. He also help me come to terms with who I am and help me to be confident with my authentic self.

I always became anxious and vulnerable when I went out and had to interact with people in public or even my friends and relative. After about thirty 50 Minute online counselling sessions and a one week intensive counselling with him, I feel a lot better and content in most social situation and being more assertive in a proper way.

Thank you, Paul, you will always be my best counsellor, life coach and friend.

Pat. Thailand.
December 2012.

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