treatment for OCD

Why do Individuals Resist Treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

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Why do Individuals Resist Treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is no walk in the park. It requires commitment, determination, and dedication. It also requires working with a therapist that you trust. When we think of therapy, we think of things that will make us feel better, right? So what is it about OCD therapy that makes it so difficult?

The best and most effective treatment for OCD is called Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy. This therapy is designed to recondition your misguided instinctual responses to fears you have misconstrued as dangerous to you or your loved ones. Because many people have lived with OCD for many years before they seek proper treatment, their fear responses have become engrained in their neuro-pathways. Trying to convince an individual, ‘well, just do the opposite and you’ll be better’ is no easy task! The fears individuals have been performing compulsions repetitively for years to escape have become deeply embedded not only in their physical reaction, but their emotional response as well. It is a delicate web to untangle.

On top of not wanting to face the anxiety individuals have done everything in their power to avoid, individuals may face other fears in the wake of starting therapy.

• What if therapy works for everyone but me?
• What if I don’t really have OCD and I’m just a monster?
• What if therapy proves my obsessions are real?
• What if therapy eliminates my anxiety and then I act on the obsessions?
• Who will I be without OCD?
• What will I do with my life when I am not ritualizing every day?
• What if I am not unique anymore after my OCD is gone?

These questions are just to name a few of the fears that may pop up before or even during therapy. A trained therapist will likely not answer these questions or give reassurance to avoid becoming part of the compulsive cycle. Facing these questions head on while maintaining the courage to follow through with the exposures can make an individual feel overwhelmed and afraid to continue therapy.

If you are feeling these terrifying fears, you are not alone. Most people experience one, more than one, or all of the above fears and more when getting treatment for OCD. You are changing the way that you respond and how you are conditioned to behave in the face of the obsessions that have ruled your life. Of course you are going to resist! It is natural for us as humans to do what we know to be safe and provide relief, even if it is temporary relief by performing an OCD compulsion. The questions arise because we are retraining our responses and we feel fear. But along with the obsessions, we must face these questions in order to condition a new response and learn to manage OCD.

Peer Support Specialists can help by using their lived experience with OCD and treatment to help navigate these fears while working through therapy. An OCD peer support specialist is an individual who is living in recovery from OCD. Being able to work with someone who has ‘been there’ and can help ease the anxiety of feeling alone and afraid in therapy can be a huge benefit in staying the course through treatment.

For more information about peer support, or for referrals and resources in your area, go to and fill out the contact sheet so Chrissie Hodges can help you get on the path to recovery for OCD.

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