Sarah is a 32-year-old woman who has been struggling with OCD for several years. She reports experiencing obsessive thoughts related to contamination and cleanliness, as well as compulsive behaviors such as excessive hand-washing and cleaning.
Sarah's symptoms have identified a diagnosis of OCD. She was also assessed for any underlying emotional issues that may be contributing to Sarah's symptoms, such as anxiety or trauma.
Based on her initial assessment, together we developed a treatment plan that included several evidence-based interventions.
Psychoeducation: I provided Sarah with education about OCD, including information about the neurobiology of the condition, common symptoms, and treatment options. This was aimed at helping Sarah understand her symptoms and reducing stigma around the condition.
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT): I introduced EFT to Sarah as a complementary therapy to help reduce the intensity of her obsessive thoughts and anxiety. I taught Sarah how to tap on specific acupuncture points while focusing on her negative emotions and repeating positive affirmations. This was used as a coping strategy to help Sarah manage her symptoms outside of therapy.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR): I also introduced EMDR to Sarah as another complementary therapy to help her process any underlying emotional issues that may be contributing to her OCD symptoms. This intervention was used to help Sarah process any past traumas or negative experiences that may be contributing to her symptoms.
Cognitive-behavioural model: Sarah learnt about the cognitive-behavioural model of OCD, which emphasises the role of thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours in the development and maintenance of OCD symptoms.
Mindfulness-based therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on developing non-judgmental awareness and acceptance of present moment experiences, including thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Sarah found this to be effective for her condition and symptoms.
Psychotherapy was also effective in treating Sarah’s symptoms, including psychodynamic therapy, interpersonal therapy, and supportive therapy.
Hypnosis and Neuro-lingustic techniques involved suggesting that Sarah is able to control her compulsive behavior and reduce her anxiety in response to her obsessive thoughts. I suggested that she is able to develop new coping strategies and that her compulsions are no longer necessary. This helped Sarah become more aware of her obsessive thoughts and she learnt to respond to them in a more adaptive way, without resorting to compulsive behaviors.
Relapse prevention was a key component of her treatment as this conditions can be chronic and have a high rate of relapse. The relapse prevention program for OCD involve the following components:
Understand OCD and its symptoms, including the triggers and warning signs of relapse.
Understand the importance of continuing treatment and the potential consequences of stopping treatment prematurely.
Identifying triggers: Identify specific triggers that can lead to a relapse, such as stress, life changes, exposure to certain stimuli, or other factors that can exacerbate OCD symptoms.
Developing coping strategies: Practice mindfulness meditation and relaxation exercises to manage symptoms when they occur.
Practice cognitive restructuring to challenge negative thoughts and beliefs.
Engage in regular exercise and activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction.
Avoid excessive alcohol or drug use, which can exacerbate symptoms.
Maintaining treatment gains: Attend regular therapy sessions and continue with medication management if prescribed.
Self-monitor symptoms and journal to identify early warning signs of relapse.
Seek help immediately if symptoms return or worsen.
Developing a support network: Build a support network of family, friends, and healthcare providers who can provide support and encouragement during times of stress or relapse. Attend support groups or seek out online communities of individuals with similar experiences.
After 10 therapy sessions, Sarah reported a significant reduction in her OCD symptoms. She reported feeling less anxious and more in control of her thoughts and behaviors. She also reported using EFT and other coping strategies outside of therapy to manage her symptoms. Sarah left therapy with a plan for ongoing self-care and follow-up as needed. These conditions have to be managed with learning on coping an staying above the symptoms.