How To Find An OCD Therapist Near Me

Medically reviewed by Majesty Purvis
Updated November 13, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

Obsessive-compulsive disorder usually consists of unwanted thoughts, images, or impulses called obsessions and responsive actions called compulsions, which can temporarily calm the obsessions. OCD is often treated with cognitive therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Family therapy, couples therapy, sex therapy, and anger management can also be used to address OCD symptoms. You can find an OCD therapist near you by seeking out a local therapist specializing in obsessive-compulsive disorder or joining an online therapy platform where you can be matched with a licensed mental health professional.

Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Making Everyday Life Difficult?

What Is OCD?

According to the OCD Foundation, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) usually involves a cycle of obsessions and compulsions that can interrupt a person’s normal thoughts or habits. Obsessions are generally defined as unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are often defined as behaviors an individual engages in to eliminate the obsessions or decrease the distress they cause. While many people may experience mild instances of obsessive-compulsive symptoms at some point in their lives, this does not necessarily mean that they have obsessive-compulsive disorder. To be classified as OCD, those with true OCD typically find the symptoms overwhelming to the point that their normal routines or habits are affected.

While many people connect obsessive-compulsive disorder with germaphobia or excessive handwashing, it can manifest itself into a myriad of different types of symptoms. The main indicator of obsessive-compulsive disorder is normally that a particular thought or action takes over a person’s life. Let’s learn a little bit more about what the OCD Foundation has to say about OCD and related disorders of this condition.

Obsessions

OCD symptoms can include obsessive thoughts, images, or impulses that happen repeatedly, and people who experience them usually feel as though they cannot control them. These obsessions are generally unwanted, and people with OCD tend to realize that they do not make sense and do not want to have them or find them disturbing. 

Obsessions often cause intense, unsettling feelings, such as disgust, doubt, fear, or a feeling that things must be done “just right” or something terrible will happen. These obsessions can consume a significant portion of a person’s day and keep them from doing other activities that a person enjoys or must do, such as going to work or taking care of their children. The symptoms must usually be time-consuming and cause extreme anxiety to be classified as OCD rather than an obsessive personality trait.

Some common obsessive-compulsive obsessions can include:

  • Fear of contamination from germs, dirt, chemicals, or other substances
  • Fear of losing control of themselves
  • Fear of harming themselves or others
  • Obsessions relating to orderliness, forgetfulness, or of losing something important
  • Unwanted sexual thoughts, often violent or perverse in nature
  • Excessive concern about right and wrong, morality, following religious tenets, or offending God 
  • Concern about contracting a severe disease
  • Superstitious ideas about numbers, colors, etc.

Compulsions

The other facet of obsessive-compulsive disorder is normally compulsions, which can be repetitive behaviors or thoughts that someone with OCD may use to counteract or reduce their obsessions. These compulsions usually only relieve OCD obsessions temporarily but are often the only way a person with OCD knows to cope with their symptoms. 

Just as with obsessions, compulsions can consume much of a person’s time and keep them from doing things they enjoy or are supposed to be doing. To classify as a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder, the OCD Foundation says that compulsions must generally be something a person feels driven to do but would instead not participate in. With obsessive-compulsive symptoms, these actions can be ways that those with OCD attempt to lessen or eliminate their obsessions, if only for a short period of time.

Some of the common types of compulsions that are included in the disorder of OCD can be: 

  • Having to wash or clean things excessively or in a certain way
  • “Checking,” such as checking that you did not harm anyone or yourself, that you did not make a mistake, or that nothing bad has happened
  • Repeating something over and over again, such as a word or action, or completing an action a certain number of times
  • Mentally reviewing something with the belief that it will prevent an unwanted event
  • Counting while doing a task to end on a “good” number
  • Rearranging things until they are “right”
  • Avoiding certain situations that might trigger obsessions

How Is OCD Treated?

While the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder was sometimes thought impossible in the past, new advances in the last few decades have generally made a marked improvement in helping people with this disorder. There may now be multiple types of therapy available for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder that can help significantly lessen, and in some cases even eliminate, the symptoms of OCD. 

OCD therapists can provide a supportive environment for clients to determine how severe their symptoms are and develop a treatment for OCD obsessions and compulsions. OCD treatment can involve a few different types of therapy at an office or medical center, such as the following:

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy is generally founded on the belief that our thoughts can influence our feelings and that our feelings, in turn, can influence the ways that we interpret situations. Cognitive therapy can help OCD therapists address the fact that many of our emotions result from how we think and that a mental health issue may distort these thoughts. 

For those with obsessive-compulsive impulses, their uncontrollable thoughts often affect their feelings negatively and affect how they can process certain situations, especially their triggers. With therapists or psychologists who specialize in cognitive therapy, people with this disorder can learn how to manage their OCD and related symptoms. 

Cognitive therapy can enable OCD therapists to help those with obsessive-compulsive disorder learn to distinguish between their thoughts and feelings, be aware of the ways their thoughts can have a detrimental influence on their feelings, evaluate if these thoughts are biased, and develop skills aimed at interrupting and correcting these thoughts.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy normally combines certain cognitive therapy aspects with other tactics aimed at helping the behavioral aspects of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of therapy that can make a big difference for most people living with an anxiety disorder, such as those with obsessive-compulsive issues. 

Many studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy can be even more effective than other forms of non-CBT behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy generally operates on the belief that certain psychological problems may be the result of incorrect or unhelpful patterns of thinking. CBT therapy also usually believes that these problems are at least partly due to unhelpful behaviors. Lastly, cognitive-behavioral therapy normally believes that these unhelpful thoughts and behaviors can be unlearned with coping mechanisms. These CBT therapy coping mechanisms can help people relieve their obsessive-compulsive behaviors to live more fulfilling lives.

Family Therapy

Family therapy might be an option to consider if you or another person in the family lives with OCD.  A family therapist can address issues within the family unit that are occurring due to the stress of obsessive-compulsive symptoms and help the family find coping mechanisms.

Couples Therapy

If you are in a relationship and worry that your OCD symptoms may affect its stability or how your partner interacts with or feels about you, you might consider seeing a couples therapist.

Sex Therapy

For people whose OCD symptoms center on sexual themes, a sex therapist can help you find ways to mitigate your negative impulses and still have a fulfilling sex life with your partner.

Anger Management

If your OCD symptoms lead to angry outbursts that you are having trouble controlling, anger management can be an option for you to learn ways to control your anger. In cases where domestic violence has been an issue, anger management can be an especially important facet in learning how to manage your OCD in a positive, lasting way.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Making Everyday Life Difficult?

How To Find An OCD Therapist Near You

It may not always be easy to find a therapist specializing in OCD with an office in your local area. If this is the case for you, then online therapy may be a better option. With online therapy, you can take a short questionnaire that examines your needs and preferences. Then, you may be matched with a therapist who can meet those needs, such as one who has experience helping people who are living with OCD.

Research has shown that online therapy for OCD can be highly effective. If obsessions and compulsions are making it difficult to get through everyday life, please know that help can be available online.

Takeaway

OCD, which usually has symptoms including unwanted obsessions and resulting compulsions, is most often treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy. Couples therapy, family therapy, anger management, and sex therapy can also help with OCD symptoms in some cases. You may find an OCD therapist who can offer you the help you deserve in your local area or through an online therapy platform.

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