Dr Balu Pitchiah MBBS, MRCPsych, CCST,MBA (OXON)

How Does CBT Help With OCD?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT is often used as part of OCD treatment. It can help you to work through your thoughts and behaviours so that you can find ways to overcome them.

What is CBT?

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a type of psychological or talk therapy that helps you to change your thoughts and behaviours. During a CBT session, you will discuss your thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and behaviours with the therapist. The doctor will help you to understand how these are all connected. You will work together to identify negative patterns in your behaviour and learn techniques to change them. You will then be able to use these techniques in your daily life in order to manage the symptoms of your OCD.

How CBT Works

When CBT is used for OCD treatment, it usually focuses on exposure and response prevention. This means that you will be confronting the things that trigger your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. You will then learn how to change your responses to these triggers. During your CBT sessions, you will:

  • Talk about the things and experiences that trigger your OCD.
  • Discuss the way that these triggers make you feel and act.
  • Start to face your fears and accept your thoughts without relying on compulsive behaviours to neutralise them.
  • Work up from the easiest situations to those that cause you the most anxiety, until you are able to cope with all of them.

Although confronting your fears can be challenging, working with the therapist and following their advice in between CBT sessions can have a significant effect. You should find that you begin to feel less anxious and that you are better able to control your thoughts and behaviours.

Other Treatments

CBT is just one of the types of psychological therapy that can be used to treat OCD. These therapies are often used alongside other forms of OCD treatment such as medication and they can make a big difference to your everyday life. Your doctor will help to find the best approach for you, which may include several different types of OCD treatment.