Exposure and response prevention involves repeated exposure to the source of your obsession. Then you are asked to refrain from the compulsive behavior you’d usually perform to reduce your anxiety. For example, if you are a compulsive hand washer, you might be asked to touch the door handle in a public restroom and then be prevented from washing up. As you sit with the anxiety, the urge to wash your hands will gradually begin to go away on its own. In this way, you learn that you don’t need the ritual to get rid of your anxiety – that you have some control over your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Studies show that exposure and response prevention can actually “retrain” the brain, permanently reducing the occurrence of obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms. This type of OCD therapy can even extinguish compulsive behaviors entirely.
Cognitive Therapy for OCD
The cognitive therapy component for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) focuses on the catastrophic thoughts and exaggerated sense of responsibility you feel. A big part of cognitive therapy for OCD is teaching you healthy and effective ways of responding to obsessive thoughts, without resorting to compulsive behavior. Other treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD):