OCD Therapist Near Me in Boynton Beach FL


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. 

Ineffective Approaches 

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.

Questions Frequently Asked About OCD

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic condition characterized by long-lasting, unwanted thoughts and compulsive, repetitive behaviors.

A few common symptoms of OCD include:

  • Debilitating fear of contamination or germs
  • Debilitating fear of harm coming to you or your loved ones
  • Debilitating fear of misplacing or losing something
  • Recurring, uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts
  • Repetitive, compulsive behavior, sometimes for hours on end

Basically, OCD can make you feel extreme levels of distress if you don’t act on specific thoughts or fears. One common example is washing or sanitizing your hands repeatedly, for hours and hours, after touching a doorknob or handrail in a public space.

OCD can be extremely difficult to live with because you don’t feel like you have control over your life. Instead, these fears and worries—which you may even recognize as extreme or irrational—dictate your emotions and actions.

Are there different types of OCD?

Yes, studies show that OCD has several different distinct types. The main categories are:

  • Contamination obsession – Manifests as compulsions to wash/clean yourself or the space you’re in, such as washing your hands repeatedly for an entire afternoon
  • Symmetry obsession – Manifests as compulsions to arrange things until “perfect,” such as rearranging your closet over and over
  • Harm obsession – Manifests as compulsions to check things, such as repeatedly making sure the oven is off
  • “Invisible” obsession – No visible obsession; often includes mentally reciting words or counting
  • Hoarding obsession – Manifests as collecting massive amounts of items that hold little to no value, such as old containers or clothing

But in truth, the different ways OCD can manifest are infinite. Other less common types include Relationship OCD, False Memory OCD, and Magical Thinking OCD. There isn’t a consensus on just how many subtypes of OCD actually exist.

How is OCD diagnosed?

OCD is diagnosed by a trained therapist, who will look for the presence of three things:

However, there isn’t a specific test for OCD. Your therapist will talk with you to understand what you’re going through currently and the details of your medical history. You’ll discuss your thoughts, symptoms, feelings, and behavior patterns you’ve noticed.

Is OCD a lifelong condition?

OCD is sometimes, but not always, a lifelong condition. Quite a few factors can impact this, such as your genetics and your age when you’re first diagnosed.

Current data shows that of children and young adults who receive an OCD diagnosis, 40% fully mitigate symptoms by adulthood.

Plus, OCD therapy can make a huge impact no matter how old you are. In one study, patients who attended 12 – 20 sessions saw a 50 – 80% reduction in OCD symptoms. So, while it’s possible for OCD to be a lifelong condition, you can absolutely reclaim your life and freedom with help from an OCD therapist.

What are effective treatments for OCD?

The most recommended treatment for OCD is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), specifically with a focus on Exposure-Response Prevention (ERP).

However, in my experience, I do not believe this to be the most efficacious approach. I have only observed symptom reduction and brief periods of termination using this method. It is my view that CBT approaches have value in managing symptoms but not for symptom resolution. Furthermore, in many instances it can make things worse. If you have benefitted from this approach, Great!

The only time I believe this approach to be effective is in minimal cases of OCD. The origins of the OCD symptoms are driven by subcortical alterations created by emotional traumas. We know through neuroscience research that these types of negative modifications cannot be reset through what are referred to as top-down approaches, such as CBT.

You see, three principles are at the heart of CBT:

  • Your thoughts influence your feelings
  • Your feelings influence your behavior
  • Your behavior reinforces your thoughts

The subcortical brain does not work in such a linear fashion. Moreover, in some form individuals with significant OCD have done a version of ERP thousands of times prior to seeking assistance.

In regards to the underlying traumas that generate the OCD symptoms, the brain, and particularly the brainstem, can only reset itself through bottom-up processes, such as working with body sensations and other internal experiences.

What is required are experiential therapies that have been shown to create the necessary neuroplastic, bottom-up changes that reset the negative adaptations caused by the initial emotional traumas.

The main therapies I would recommend when working with OCD would be Internal Family Systems, Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy, EMDR, Brainspotting, and Somatic Experiencing. There are additional experiential therapies I have not listed but these are the main five I use. Of these experiential therapies, the one I have found most effective in treating OCD is Internal Family Systems (IFS).

IFS views the OCD symptoms as being generated by a protective part of the personality structure that is attempting to prevent a painful emotional state held by a part of the personality that was dissociated due to overwhelming emotions from being activated in the nervous system or to experience an additional similar painful experience.

To put this in context, let’s say you are a child growing up in a chaotic and abusive environment. You are powerless to change the situation or access any outside help.  You are riddled with chronic anxiety and fear. Then one day on the way to school, you begin counting cracks in the sidewalk. This provides a temporary reduction in your level of anxiety.

This behavior also gives you a sense of agency – there’s something you can do. Typically, in this type of situation the behavior will change throughout the child’s development or reduce in frequency and intensity, which by adulthood causes confusion as to the origin of the cause.

This is the chief reason OCD can be so difficult to overcome: it is not a disorder but a resource. The fact the OCD provides a type of assistance, and the need for bottom-up processing, is why CBT or similar cognitive approaches are incapable of achieving the subcortical and neuroplastic changes necessary for true resolution.

What qualifications should a good OCD therapist have?

The qualifications a good OCD therapist should have include:

  • Multiple years of experience treating patients with OCD
  • Deep familiarity with the experiential therapies and applying them to treat OCD
  • Strong knowledge of IFS and how to employ it in sessions
  • Commitment to ongoing education in the field of therapy
  • A high level of focus and attentiveness during sessions

Most of this information can be found by looking at each OCD therapist’s website—just like you’re learning about our approach to OCD therapy by reading this page. Above all, trust your gut when evaluating your options. You can always switch therapists if you’re not comfortable.

What questions should you ask a potential OCD therapist?

Questions you should ask a potential OCD therapist include:

Have you treated people with OCD before?

Their answer will immediately tell you whether this therapist can help you.

Do you use IFS as part of your treatments?

Anyone who says no to this question will most likely not be able to help you fully resolve your OCD.

What’s your background and education in terms of OCD therapy?

Generally, the more familiar an OCD therapist is with the condition, the more effective their treatment will be.

Do you offer online therapy for OCD?

If you need the flexibility of online appointments, ask the therapist about this option early on.

These four questions should give you a fairly good idea of whether a specific OCD therapist will or won’t be a good fit for you. But again, if you like their answers, yet just don’t click during the actual sessions, you’re free to try someone else.

If you’d like to learn more about our approach to OCD therapy—or you want to ask our OCD therapists any of the above questions—just contact Hawkins Counseling today. 

Boynton Beach Counseling Center
Hawkins Counseling Center
1034 Gateway Blvd.
Boynton Beach, FL 33426
Phone: ‪(561) 316-6553‬