Why You Won’t Be Judged About Your OCD in Therapy
If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), it’s common to feel anxious, embarrassed or even ashamed of your thoughts and compulsions. However, it’s important to learn that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and that OCD is common: millions of people are affected by the same condition everyday.
Furthermore, even people without OCD experience intrusive and unwanted thoughts from time to time, which means you’re definitely not alone in your experience. It’s especially important to know that a therapist who is specialty-trained in treating OCD will never judge you for your thoughts or symptoms.
What if a therapist thinks I’m crazy?
No matter the type of obsessions you experience, you may be able to recognize that your thoughts seem irrational, which can make you fear that others will find them just as irrational, or even view them negatively. But it’s important to remember that no matter how irrational your obsessions may appear, they feel very real to you, and they are impacting your life. Having obsessive thoughts is not indicative of your character, and it has nothing to do with who you are as a person.
All it means is that you have OCD, a common mental health disorder. Receiving this diagnosis may seem scary, but it can help you recognize that your experiences are shared by others and begin learning to manage your symptoms.
What if I think about harming myself or others?
A common subtype of OCD is called harm OCD, and it’s marked by an obsessive-compulsive cycle of unwanted thoughts about harming yourself or others. If you have Harm OCD, you may experience great fear that you could act on your obsessions and hurt someone, even if you have no desire to do so.
There are other common subtypes that often cause shame and stigma, such as Pedophilia OCD (POCD). People with POCD have intrusive sexual thoughts about children that don’t reflect their actual beliefs or desires, and they often worry whether they would ever act on these thoughts.
With subtypes like Harm OCD or POCD, you may worry that intrusive thoughts say something about your character, and question who you are as a person. Understandably, this can be extremely distressing and isolating. If you have thoughts that are disturbing or taboo in nature, it can be scary to tell anyone what you’re going through.
However, there is successful treatment for OCD, and the thoughts OCD gives you are not reflective of your character as a person. With effective treatment, you can regain control over your life.That’s why it’s important to discuss your experience with a therapist that specializes in treating OCD. It is highly unlikely that an OCD specialist will even be surprised by the content of your obsessions – they’ve likely heard it before!
What if I’ve had a bad experience in therapy before?
Unfortunately, we’re aware that not everyone has had a great first experience with therapy, especially those dealing with OCD. Studies suggest that as many as half of people struggling with OCD are misdiagnosed with other conditions, meaning it can be hard to get the help you need if your therapist doesn’t recognize the signs and symptoms of OCD.
Even if you’ve had a negative experience with therapy, it is worth giving OCD treatment another try. While another therapist may have missed the mark in the past, a licensed therapist with experience in treating OCD will never judge you for what you’re experiencing. If you want to start treatment with an OCD expert, NOCD can help.
How is OCD treated?
A therapist who is specialty-trained in treating OCD will never judge you for any of your thoughts or compulsions. They are here to teach you how to sit with discomfort and uncertainty, allowing your fear and anxiety to go away without relying on compulsions. This is accomplished through exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy.
ERP works by slowly exposing you to situations that provoke your obsessions, and resisting your compulsive responses to the resulting anxiety. Over time, you’ll learn how to let intrusive thoughts simply exist, letting your anxiety dissipate without engaging in compulsions.
Thankfully, ERP is now more accessible than ever, through NOCD’s extensive network of therapists. Every NOCD therapist specializes in treating OCD with ERP, the gold-standard treatment. If you’re interested in working with a licensed therapist who specializes in treatment OCD, schedule a free call with the NOCD care team.
If you’re worried or uncomfortable about discussing your symptoms and thoughts with anyone else, remember that OCD is highly treatable. You don’t have to suffer in silence, and many people find relief in sharing their experiences. Over time, you can learn how to manage OCD and regain your life.
Keara E. Valentine, Psy.D., is a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine in the OCD and Related Disorders Track, where she specializes in the assessment and treatment of OCD and related disorders. Dr. Valentine utilizes behavioral-based therapies including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) with children, adolescents, and adults experiencing anxiety-related disorders.
- ERP Therapy
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
NOCD Therapists specialize in treating OCDView all therapists
Licensed Therapist, MA
I started as a therapist over 14 years ago, working in different mental health environments. Many people with OCD that weren't being treated for it crossed my path and weren't getting better. I decided that I wanted to help people with OCD, so I became an OCD therapist, and eventually, a clinical supervisor. I treated people using Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and saw people get better day in and day out. I continue to use ERP because nothing is more effective in treating OCD.
Licensed Therapist, LCMHC
When I started treating OCD, I quickly realized how much this type of work means to me because I had to learn how to be okay with discomfort and uncertainty myself. I’ve been practicing as a licensed therapist since 2016. My graduate work is in mental health counseling, and I use Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy because it’s the gold standard of OCD treatment.
Licensed Therapy, LMHC
I've been a licensed counselor since 2013, having run my private practice with a steady influx of OCD cases for several years. Out of all the approaches to OCD treatment that I've used, I find Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy to be the most effective. ERP goes beyond other methods and tackles the problem head-on. By using ERP in our sessions, you can look forward to better days ahead.