Okay, so Cognitive behavioral therapy, what is it? CBT is a form of therapy that looks at different aspects of our thinking patterns, and how we can break the cycle of negative thoughts that cause our behavior’s. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most commonly used therapy treatment used in conjunction with medication as it has proven to be the most effective form of therapy.
CBT looks at different types of thinking distortions which cause us anxiety. Some of these are:
The belief that thinking something will make it happen.
I used to think this didn’t apply to me but it does more than I thought. If I feel contaminated I worry and think that I will contaminate others. The persistent thought I will make them sick. When I know that in reality a thought is just a thought, but it does not feel that way.
With emotional reasoning we assume that because we feel a certain way it must be true. So if you feel contaminated, you are contaminated. If you feel worthless, you are worthless.
I find emotional reasoning to be something I really struggle with at the best of times, because it affects your mood and really drags you down to a dark place.
With catashrophising some people call it making a mountain out of a molehill. With this everything feels so much worse that it potentially is ( I know I do this all the time to me it feels like the end of the world) and blowing things out of proportion or making them seem less important than they are.
Jumping to conclusions
With this we jump to conclusion that are usually negative without even having any evidence or even being in the situation most of the time.
This is assuming we know what someone is thinking, even if we have no proof to go on.
All of these thinking patterns combined, help to fuel our anxiety and by isolating which thinking distortion we struggle with, we can look at how much of what we believe is actually true. This however is a lot easier said than done because it is a genuine belief.
EXPOSURE RESPONSE PREVENTION
Arguably the most important part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is exposure response therapy. ERP is where you expose yourself to something that you fear and try to wait as long as possible before completing your compulsion. The idea is that you let the anxiety sit as long as possible before you complete your compulsion and you do this many times until it becomes easier.
An example of this is if you fear contamination you could touch a bin, then you try not to complete your compulsion like wash your hands for as long as possible or for a set time. Then you could complete your compulsion .The idea is to repeat this many times, eventually for a longer period of time so the anxiety is no longer crippling.
However it does not work for some people myself included. Some of these aspects of CBT include, challenging core beliefs, breathing techniques and relaxation, challenging negative thinking, behavior experiments, types of thinking and exposure response prevention. Arguably exposure response prevention is the most important and anxiety inducing part of CBT.
There are some areas of CBT that I have found more helpful than others. For instance through CBT I was able to discover which memory triggered my OCD and it that respect it was helpful. However if you are to do CBT successfully, you will need the support of your friends and family .It forces you to look back and it is a daunting and distressing experience so be prepared. I am about to go into my fifth bout of CBT and it is something I am stressing about enormously as Exposure response prevention is like my worst nightmare. All I know is that the support of my family in the next few months will be vital. So keep your loved ones close. In conclusion I would give CBT a chance as it may give you the tools to help you control or combat your OCD for good.