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OCD: “The Bow that You Have to Keep on Tying”

10.11.16

View original article published in Psych Central– “It just doesn’t feel right. I have to fix it until it is just so!” “I need to figure it out, and once I do, I’ll feel free to move on!” “I have to check all the windows, then I’ll be able to sleep peacefully.” “I have to repeat my prayers until I know God has really heard them.” “Not knowing whether I may hurt my child makes me anxious. I waste too many hours reviewing my behavior to ensure I haven’t harmed her.” What do those statements have in common? When individuals experience OCD, accepting uncertainty seems to be the greatest challenge. They have extreme difficulty moving on with their day unless they feel 100% sure the answers to their doubts have been resolved. Whether it is doing s

The Before and After… by Nancy Larsen, MSW, CSW

9.21.16

In therapy, I often use art as a tool to help clients externalize their experience with OCD. This technique assists the client in expressing how OCD affects their life by using color; giving their OCD a name, a shape and a face. When I first mention to clients that they will be finger painting in session, they often have a surprised look on their face. Most of their comments go something like this, “Finger painting. Seriously? I haven’t finger painted since I was in…kindergarten.”  Although some are hesitant when they first start their painting, I find it is not long before they begin to get into their work and create what I call a masterpiece. Below you will find artwork done by a few of my clients. Each client was

Is OCD bullying You? You Now Have Options

10.13.15

According to Stopbullying.gov “bullying …involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.” They also state that those that are bullied “may have serious, lasting problems.” This definition sounds very much like the relationship many individuals experience with OCD. Is OCD bullying you? Is there a power imbalance? Who is calling the shots every day? Is OCD causing serious and lasting problems? It doesn’t have to be that way! For starters, you need to know the best way to deal with your bully (OCD), and here are some suggestions. When dealing with the OCD bully, DO NOT: Fight or argue with OCD. This actually reinforces the thinking patterns. Ignore OCD. Advice for dealin

Relationship OCD and the Doors of Uncertainty

10.11.15

[View original article published in Psych Central here] When Adam was about 9 years old, he began to experience contamination obsessive-compulsive disorder. At 14, his fears about possibly getting sick subsided, but he began questioning his religious and moral values. His OCD had morphed. Throughout his high school years, he experienced scrupulosity OCD. His first year in college, he dated on and off, and his OCD continued to target his religion. Then, he met someone special and got married, but he did not live happily ever after. One year into his marriage, he began to question his relationship. He often wondered, “Did I make the right choice? Do I really love my wife? What would my life be like if I had I married my previous girlfriend?”

6 Things You Need to Know Before Starting OCD Treatment

6.8.15

[View original article published in Psych Central here] If you suffer from OCD, you likely feel exhausted every day. The anxiety and tormenting thoughts may lead you to internal and external rituals. These compulsions provide relief — at least temporarily. You probably wish there was a magic pill or treatment that could take the suffering away permanently. If you were told that the answer to a better life is found at the top of a high mountain, would you be willing to climb it? You would be warned, “It will be a stormy and an arduous ascend, but once you get to the top, you’ll find what you are looking for!” Would you take the chance and do what it takes to get there? It could be the hardest thing you’ve done in your life. Would you still

When Your Loved One Has Body Dysmorphic Disorder

4.7.15

[View original article published in Psych Central here. Aaron was a senior in high school, and his grades had begun to decline. He wasn’t interested in hanging out with his friends. He seemed depressed. He’d spend an extraordinary amount of time in the bathroom fixing his hair. Aaron’s father had a difficult time understanding his son’s behavior. He would get irritated when he saw all the hair products in Aaron’s bathroom. Aaron was determined to find the perfect product for his hair. He still had not found it. We all have bad hair days. We also are aware of our physical flaws, but most of us are able to accept them without obsessing or becoming paralyzed by them. If you know someone who has become depressed and is excessively preoccupied

Is it OCD, OCPD, or What?

3.10.15

View original article published in Psych Central here. Grace is obsessed about order and having things “just so.” She is constantly checking for symmetry in her surroundings. The time she spends ordering and organizing her things is disrupting her life. She spends excessive time on details and often gets stuck while doing or undoing things until she feels “right” about the situation. This causes her a great deal of distress. Her motivation in doing her rituals is to decrease anxiety and uncertainty about her feared consequence (having a panic attack). Does Grace have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)? Patrick needs things to be perfect and orderly. He is a perfectionist and is preoccupied with details and making lists. His perfectionism

Scrupulosity: When OCD Targets Your Religious and Moral Values

1.14.15

View original article published in Psych Central here. Whenever Marian was exposed to religious issues, she felt overwhelmed by doubt, guilt and anxiety. She had been steadfast in her devotion since childhood. Lately, though, she’d try to avoid anything or anyone that triggered her spiritual obsessions. Her loved ones were puzzled because her commitment had been extraordinary. Conflicting worries consumed her mind and she was becoming depressed. Marian’s example of scrupulosity is one of many variations a sufferer may have with this type of OCD. Sometimes individuals with scrupulosity aren’t religious but feel hyper-responsible to their moral standards. The fact is that once in a while, religious individuals may experience doubts, guilt, re

Starve the OCD Beast and START Making Changes

10.15.14

Once upon a time a young man was walking through the mountains near his home.  A cute little kitten appeared.  It looked hungry and lost.  He decided to take it home.  He took good care of the kitten, but every time he fed it, it seemed hungrier.  One day he noticed it was eating a mouse.  He realized his kitten was ready for big cat’s food. But the problem continued. The more he fed it, the more the kitten wanted.  One day, a friend came to visit him.  The friend was shocked and said,  “What in the world are you doing with a tiger?”  The young man had gotten so used to living with his pet and its demands that he had not even noticed that it had become a tiger! You may have heard similar stories to illustrate how individuals who comply with

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