Family Counseling for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly known as OCD, is a chemical imbalance of Serotonin in the brain. This is the biological explanation. OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted, intrusive thoughts images or uncomfortable feelings. These horrific thoughts and images lead to mental and behavioral compulsions. Compulsions relieve the anxiety or weird feelings brought on by the up sessions. However, this is only temporary relief. The obsessions return to torture the sufferer. Also included in OCD is avoiding situations which will trigger the obsessions and compulsions.

The gold standard of treatment for OCD is medication and exposure and response prevention and cognitive behavior therapy. This was created by Dr. Edna Foa, PhD. In the late 1980s. Dr. Foa created exposure and response prevention. The medications used today were also created and the late 1980s and 1990s. These are the famous serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Luvox and Prozac to name a couple. Medication combined with outpatient treatment or in some cases intensive outpatient treatment with homework assignments are given to the sufferer. If the sufferer does not respond to behavior therapy and medication then and selective cases a gamma knife is used. Someone has to have failed multiple trials of CBT and medication before that is considered. Also, access to treatment and insurance please apart in providing this treatment.

Two challenges remain. First, there are not enough therapist trained in exposure and response prevention. Traditional counseling and relaxation training are counterproductive to treating OCD. Second, sufferers do not know the right questions to ask a potential therapist. Every sufferer or a a family of a sufferer needs to interview the therapist for their experience and training in the treatment of OCD. It is suggested that the sufferer or family member schedule a consultation with a potential therapist to find out how the therapist what create a treatment plan for the sufferers specific subset of OCD. Is the potential therapist does not know what exposure and response prevention is or cannot create a specific anxiety hierarchy they do not have enough experience or any experience in the treatment of OCD.

This writer is certified in cognitive behavior therapy, exposure and response prevention and emotional freedom techniques. What is emotional freedom techniques you might ask? I am happy to share this with you.

Emotional freedom techniques, a.k.a., tapping, a.k.a. EFT was created by Gary Craig, a Stanford engineer, in 1993. EFT is based in Chinese medicine. EFT uses the same acupressure points as acupuncturists use, except we don’t use needles. Acupressure points are the endpoints of the electrical pathways of the human body known as meridians. This is what the Chinese found over 5000 years ago. The acupressure points are on the surface of the skin at the end of the meridians. By tapping or touch and breathing on nine points while saying phrases distress is lowered, cortisol, the stress hormone, drops, and the amygdala is calm. Full disclosure, there is no specific research with a EFT for OCD. There is research on EFT for cortisol reduction, phobias, PTSD, eating disorders, Weight loss in general anxiety.

This writer has used EFT clinically for OCD since 1996. Data has shown clients have had a reduction of obsessions and compulsions by 80%. EFT combined with exposure therapy creates new learning in the brain. Whereas exposure and response prevention override the old learning. EF T provides new learning as it breaks out the old patterns.

Specific setup statements and reminder statements are created specific to the sufferers’ subtype of OCD. These statements provide you exposure. Tapping on the acupressure points removes the electrical charge, AKA, the emotional spike caused by the obsession. Won the client brings up the feared image or thought the electrical charge has been eliminated. When the anxiety or electrical charge is eliminated the client is no longer afraid of the obsession ended session goes away. This treatment combined with omega three fatty acids and CBD oil, when approved by a physician, provides lasting relief many times without medication. It is recommended that if someone is on medication, they stay on their medication for one full year. If after one year of treatment with behavior therapy, medication, and fish oil and CBD oil they have control over OCD they can discuss possible reduction in medication with their physician.

This writer is a holistic integrative licensed professional counselor with the private practice outside of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Joan can be contacted at and and all social media.