OCD Therapist Near Me in Boynton Beach FL
OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER
Perhaps, no other mental health issue is more distressing then severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD can be relentlessly intrusive and all consuming, completely taking over a person’s life in some cases leading to a complete impairment in functioning. There are many forms OCD can take, such as hyperreligous types, fear of being contaminated in some manner, or panic that one’s sexual orientation may differ from the consistent way in which a person identifies.
OCD can also differ in its expression throughout an individual’s lifetime or go latent for a period of time. It can begin in childhood or at any point throughout the lifespan. The latter in particular can be very confusing for a person as to why they have never experienced such symptoms before or what possible cause could be generating them. Furthermore, they frequently seem so irrational to the individual that in addition to the distress OCD causes they feel a sense of shame and fear at disclosing what they are struggling with, which leads to feeling more isolated and alone.
Some approaches look at what is occurring in the brain through scans or other measurement instruments, which can be very cost prohibitive. The theory is, “Look we can see which parts of the brain are overreactive or underactive.” However, this does little to nothing to identify the cause of the imbalances in the brain’s energy regulation. The recommended treatment protocol with this approach would be to employ either psychotropic medications or large amounts of supplements in an effort to bring these brain regions into balance. After working with countless clients suffering from OCD, I have only witnessed a diminishment or temporary reprieve at best from the OCD symptoms with these therapeutic modalities.
Even if this approach was successful it would still not address the etiology, or origins, of the OCD symptoms. You would have to continually take medications or supplements to keep the intrusive symptoms at bay. The most common approach to treating OCD in the mental health field comes from cognitive behavioral therapy and is known as Exposure-Response Prevention. This consists of exposing yourself to the trigger for your OCD symptoms and attempting not to respond.
The Link Between OCD and PTSD
If you have benefitted in any way from this approach, I am sincerely grateful this has helped you experience relief. But in my clinical experience, I have not observed this. Moreover, I have seen numerous client’s suffering and symptoms escalate and worsen. In my opinion, this approach is by and large irrational and archaic and perpetuates needless suffering. One of the facts I point out to other well-meaning clinicians is the fact that the client has most likely attempted this approach thousands of times prior to seeking help.
In my first year as a psychotherapist, I attempted these recommended approaches and found them almost completely ineffective. It was heartbreaking. My clients were in tremendous suffering, and there was little I was contributing to helping them. Concurrently, I realized within the first few months of practicing as a licensed clinician that the underlying cause of most issues was some form of emotional trauma the client has previously experienced, even though a large percentage of them did not identify or designate what they had undergone as a trauma.
A Resource Rather Than A Disorder
I dedicated myself to becoming adept at working with trauma. After a period of time, I began to recognize that the vast majority of my trauma clients had OCD type behaviors that were aiding them in regulating their anxiety symptoms. Even though what they were experiencing were not traditional OCD symptoms, I began to see these behaviors as resources rather than disorders. As I continued working with clients with more classic OCD symptoms, I brought this understanding to their struggle.
I then realized OCD in the preponderance of cases was actually an internal resource rather than a disorder. Yes. You can look at the brain and measure imbalances in neurotransmitters, such as Serotonin or GABA, or observe regions of the brain that were over or underactive. However, this did not tell the full story but only a snapshot. The underlying cause was not being identified and, as mentioned earlier, the standard treatments were focused on symptom management at best.
The Approach To Resolution
Some of the experiential therapies I was using at the time, such as EMDR and Brainspotting, were capable of diminishing the symptoms or achieving a temporary remission. Nonetheless, some form of the symptoms would eventually reappear or manifest in a different form. It was not until I began using a combination of Internal Family Systems Therapy and Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy that my clients started to achieve full resolution of their OCD.
Internal Family Systems Therapy sees the OCD as a protective subpart of a person’s personality structure. I have found this to be true in every case of OCD I have worked with. Underlying this protective part are parts that have been split off from consciousness due to emotional trauma of some type, such as abandonment, abuse, neglect, shame, helplessness, etc. The OCD part is attempting desperately to protect this part from being activated by some internal or external trigger and flooding a person’s nervous system or being additionally wounded by present circumstances.
The Science of Memory Reconsolidation
Through building a trusting relationship with a client’s Core Self, in IFS terms, the OCD part will then allow access to the client’s wounded and emotionally burdened parts in order to heal them and release the energy frozen in the client’s nervous system from the body. This process is based in neuroscience, in particular a research-based intervention known as memory reconsolidation: activation of the past implicit memory, the wounded part then experiences a reparative or corrective experience, and then unburdens the emotional energy somatically.
Of course, if a client’s distress is of a certain level of severity a temporary medication or supplementation may be needed in order to stabilize them to a degree they can successfully engage in this process, as well as diminish their current suffering. Once this procedure is complete the OCD part of the personality will no longer need to engage in this protective strategy and will terminate this behavior.
Again, this is the only approach I have found to achieve full resolution of one’s OCD symptoms. If you or someone you know is currently struggling with OCD and have not found relief through any approaches you have tried, please contact Hawkins Counseling Center today to learn more and obtain relief from your OCD symptoms. Resolution is possible as many of my clients can attest.