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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

Mindfulness and OCD

5.22.16

View original article published in Psych Central here] Vincent was a young man experiencing intrusive thoughts. All he wanted in life was to get rid of those tormenting images and thoughts once and for all. One day, after coming back from a camping trip he told his therapist, “I was so busy and focused on what I was doing that I didn’t have time to analyze my thoughts and obsess. I was mainly focused in the present moment. If only I could go on camping adventures every day!” Vincent’s OCD symptoms had begun when he was 12 years old. He had created thinking patterns that weren’t helpful. In the past, he had tried different “distracting strategies” but their effectiveness was short-lived. He also had discovered that fighting his internal expe

Mindfulness and OCD

10.14.15

A while ago, I met a young man who experienced intrusive thoughts. All he wanted in life was to get rid of those tormenting thoughts once and for all. One day, after coming back from an adventure camping trip he said, “I was so busy the whole time. It was fun mainly because I didn’t have time to analyze my thoughts. I was able to be in the present moment. If I could only do that every day!” He had noticed the difference it made when he was focused on the present moment without constantly evaluating his thoughts. His thoughts had still been there, but he didn’t engage them that weekend. Before this experience, he had neglected practicing mindfulness. He realized that by practicing every day he could learn to be in the present moment without

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

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

Is there an OCD Nightmare In Your Closet?

10.14.14

Those who don’t have the disorder misconstrue and continue to promote misconceptions about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Those suffering may hide and shield themselves from possibly being hurt and shunned.  They may feel ashamed or embarrassed.  The fact is that there are still many people in society who have no idea that OCD can be paralyzing, and it should not be trivialized.  Only those suffering can change things by letting the OCD Nightmare in their closet get out. The classic children’s book “There Is a Nightmare in My Closet” written  by Mercer Mayer comes to mind.  Here are some parallels: Prepare for the OCD nightmare to come out.  The young boy decides he will defy the nightmare.  He gets his weapons lined up and is ready to fac

What is OCD? OCD Awareness #OCDWeek 2014

10.14.14

If you aren’t sure what OCD is, watch this short video.  It will enlighten you. Source:  IOCDF.ORG

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