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What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

OCD is characterised by the presence of obsession and/or compulsions.

Obsessions are persistent and recurrent thoughts, urges or images. These are experienced as intrusive and unwanted.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviours or mental acts, which a person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be rigidly applied.  Compulsions include repetitive behaviours e.g hand washing, checking, ordering items or mental acts e.g. counting, repeating words.  These behaviours or mental acts are an attempt to prevent or reduce anxiety or distress, or prevent some dreaded event from occurring e.g. harm happening to someone. However, these behaviours and mental acts are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to prevent or are clearly excessive e.g. touching an item in a specific way a set amount of times to prevent something from happening.

Testimonial for CBT for the treatment of OCD and health anxiety

I contacted Sarah because I had become really distressed by my intrusive thoughts. These ranged from thoughts of hurting someone close to me even though I knew I would never do it, to worrying that I had a severe mental health issue, i was avoiding certain situations because I was scared I might act upon these thoughts, even though deep down I knew I wouldn't. For example, I would purposively not stand or sit on a balcony in case I jumped off.

Sarah used a CBT treatment plan to help me. It has been very useful. Even though I had read a lot about OCD and mental health on the internet, it was different and more beneficial for me to explore this with someone who is a professional in this area and has a good understanding of mental health. I learnt some very useful techniques. I practiced these between sessions and we were able to ensure I used these optimally.

I gained reassurance from knowing that what I was experiencing was more common than I thought it was. This helped put things into perspective.

(Male, aged 21)

Testimonial for CBT for OCD

When I first visited Sarah I was suffering with OCD. At the time I was obsessively checking doors, various locks, taps, gas, water and electrics. I would regularly return and to do numerous checks once I had left the house. Sometimes I would be 15 minutes from home and still return. I would convince myself that catastrophic things had happened, such as of my property and the house being on fire.

I am really pleased to say that I have learned to control my obsessive behaviour using CBT. Sarah taught me how to use CBT to my advantage. I had tried self help books in the past to no avail. In my opinion working with a therapist has made all the difference. It has kept me on track. With self help books in the past I had often given up or not being fully committed.

(Male, aged 75)

Testimonial for CBT for OCD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

I came for therapy when I noticed my OCD had become worse. I was using my OCD behaviour as a means to cope with some stressful life events, even though I knew it was not the best way. We did some work on my compulsions. I had been performing these repetitive behaviours to reduce my anxiety and to prevent dreaded events from happening (e.g. harm happening to loved ones).

Sarah helped me to realise that I was also experiencing Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and I was worrying excessively about several different things.  She taught me ways to manage my worry. As a result, I felt less stressed and anxious and I therefore did not need to rely on my obsessive compulsive behaviour to try to control my high level of anxiety.

I developed a good clinical understanding of OCD and GAD and what was maintaining them.  I learnt robust techniques, which I practise daily and find these really help.  I feel like I have a library of practical strategies to apply when necessary.  Thankfully I no longer have OCD or GAD.

I found Sarah to be encouraging, non-judgemental, understanding, compassionate and with a flexible approach.  I am so grateful for her help. I cannot thank her enough.

(Female age 51)