Thursday, March 26, 2009

OCD: Psychologial Therapies

Combined with medications, psychological therapies are considered to be an effective approach to reducing the OCD symptoms, their frequency and intensity. These therapies are directed on changing the thoughts and behaviors of OCD patients in order to help them in decreasing their dependence on the obsessions and compulsions.

Psychological therapies include three approaches: Behavior Therapy (BT), Cognitive Therapy (CT) and Behavior-Cognitive Therapy (BCT), which help people with OCD in learning how to control their symptoms of the disorder. BT is supposed to be the most effective therapy, as well as BCT. The technique of BT is called “Exposure and Response Prevention”: the therapist makes the patient face the situation or object of obsession, but at that it is prohibited for the patient to perform his/her usual rituals. For example, the patient is forced to touch something dirty, but he/she is not allowed to wash his/her hands after this for some hours.

Another technique is called Saturation. It is based on the assumption that if an OCD patient will get concentrated on the obsessional thought for some time (15-20 minutes), the compulsions may lose their meaning and the disorder will become less severe. These and various other behavior therapeutic techniques help patients to cope with their anxiety without compulsions, and the effects of such therapies frequently remain for rather long period of time.

BCT approach can also be helpful for OCD treatment. This type of therapy is directed on changing the thoughts and escaping negative thinking patterns of patients with OCD, including the attempts to change attitude of the OCD patients towards their obsession. Thus, one of the most popular techniques, Thought-stopping, helps OCD patients to learn blocking the deveopment of obsessional thoughts and prevent compulsions by doing something different or opposite.

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