Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) with a psychologist Melbourne


Obsessive compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, is a prevalent anxiety disorder characterised by persistent and uncontrollable thoughts—termed obsessions—and repetitive behaviours or rituals, known as compulsions. These obsessive-compulsive patterns can significantly disrupt an individual’s routine and diminish their quality of life. This page will define Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), examining its symptoms, causative factors, methods for diagnosis, and the various treatment options available.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious mental health condition characterised by an influx of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours that can severely disrupt one’s daily life. Individuals struggling with this anxiety disorder experience intense fears and unwanted thoughts, which drive them to engage in ritualistic behaviour as a means to mitigate their high levels of anxiety and distress. The symptoms significantly impact the person’s ability to function normally, often leading to reduced quality of life.

Common Symptoms of OCD

OCD is notable for its distinctive symptoms characterized by persistent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. The intensity of these symptoms may vary from mild to extreme, often disrupting daily activities with their persistence. Although the particular obsessions and compulsions can differ widely across individuals with OCD, there are often recurring themes in the fears experienced and rituals performed.

The hallmark of these symptoms is the significant worry and distress they induce, leading individuals to spend considerable time engaging in or resisting intrusive thoughts through repetitive rituals.

Obsessive Thoughts

Persistent thoughts in OCD can be likened to constant, uninvited disturbances in one’s mind, typically filled with themes of alarm and unease. These intrusive thoughts can reflect a range of concerns (depending on the individual) from fears about being contaminated, to the terrifying notion of inadvertently causing harm, or witnessing terrible events.

The strength of these thoughts lies in their ability not just to vividly present themselves but also incite acute fear within the individual experiencing them. For many people, the result is often an internal struggle: on one hand there may be an awareness regarding the absurdity of such fears. Yet on the other hand, there exists an overwhelming sense of distress associated with the fears and feelings of helplessness about making these fears and thoughts go away.

Compulsive Behaviours

In order to reduce the impact of intrusive and obsessive thoughts and fears, compulsive or repetitive behaviours are carried out. These are termed “rituals” and are designed to alleviate the distress of the intrusive thoughts. This is not exhaustive list but some examples of rituals, compulsions or repetitive behaviours include:

For many people, these rituals provide momentary relief from obsessive thoughts. The impact, however, doesn’t last and the obsessive thoughts tend to return. Over time, this can develop into a vicious cycle where individuals are caught between escalating obsessive thoughts and escalating compulsions. It’s this cycle that can interfere with day-to-day tasks, relationships, mood, life-style factors, and in turn, overall quality of life

Psychological Treatment Options for OCD

The good news is that OCD is a very treatable condition where individuals can learn to manage this condition, reducing or minimising both compulsions and obsessive thoughts over time. With treatment, it is possible for many individuals to no longer meet criteria for obsessive compulsive disorder, and/or to vastly improve their quality of life and well-being.

Psychological treatments are recommended for OCD, and some people also find the certain psychoactive medications also play an important role in their recovery.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Exposure Response Prevention (ERP)

In the treatment of OCD, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), and in particular a form of CBT called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) has the strongest evidence base demonstrating effectiveness for OCD treatment. ERP instructs individuals on how to handle their obsessions and compulsions by teaching them to:

At Cova Psychology, our Melbourne Psychologists can conduct a thorough assessment, diagnose OCD, and provide you with effective OCD treatment. The assessment process is important because for many people, OCD may represent one of a number of mental health concerns that they would like addressed in therapy. As such, our psychologists can collaboratively create a treatment plan with you that is tailored to you and your needs. The treatment plan will reflect your goals and may combine an OCD treatment such as ERP with

other therapies relevant to you such as mindfulness-based therapies, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Schema Therapy, or if you have experienced trauma, Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR).