The Assessment and Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, can be an extremely disabling condition, but in most cases it is extremely responsive to treatment.

Unfortunately, to be successful treatment must be extremely focussed. There is a stronger element of technique and precision in OCD treatment than with many anxiety-related conditions. If done well, treatment gains can be marked and rapid. If attempted haphazardly, progress is often completely absent.

In this workshop we consider the nature of OCD and the seemingly endless variety of its manifestations. No two cases are exactly alike.

We discuss common concerns including cleanliness, security, fears of personal responsibility for failings, symmetry, precision, sexuality, fears of unwelcome impulses, associations between intrusive thoughts and specific behaviours, and more.

Then we look at the behaviours (the compulsions) designed to reduce the anxiety associated with these concerns. We look at the client’s belief in the utility of these behaviours, and show how cognitive work can be employed to create at least an intellectual understanding of their excessiveness.

Much of the workshop is concerned with the use of Exposure and Response Prevention, or ERP, often considered the gold standard of OCD treatment. We consider ways of bringing about the unwelcome obsessions deliberately, and ways to help the client tolerate these without performing anxiety-reducing compulsions.

Participants can bring their own examples to the workshop and work on creating plans for intervention.

Throughout we present case examples - including some based on celebrity figures who have been open about their struggles.

Topics in sequence

  • The nature of obsessions
  • The nature of compulsions
  • Mental compulsions
  • The quest for “just rightness”
  • Diagnostic criteria
  • A model of OCD for clients
  • Objectifying the OCD
  • Exploring rituals and functionality
  • A model for ERP
  • The three zones of comfort
  • The exposure sequence and the therapeutic window
  • Creating a hierarchy
  • Conducting exposures in session
  • Conducting exposures as homework
  • Overcoming OCD thinking
  • The futility of thought suppression
  • Addressing likelihood and severity in appraisals
  • Assessing the level of belief in thinking
  • Common distortions and how to handle them
  • Behavioural experiments
  • Group therapy for OCD
  • Planning for the long term

Duration: One day.

Supplied to Participants: Package with anxiety treatment forms and presentation slide handouts.

Who should attend?

This program is suited to both newer and more experienced clinicians wishing to use effective exposure-based techniques in their own work with clients experiencing obsessive compulsive disorder.