Compulsive Behaviour Therapy Counselling

Melbourne Counselling offers compulsive behaviour therapy and OCD treatment in the Melbourne CBD.
OCD is a relatively common psychiatric disorder that affects between 1-2% of the population, however, ranging in the way the symptoms are displayed. The age of onset seems to differ based on gender. Typically males show symptoms between ages 6 and 15, and females between age 20 and 30.

Typical symptoms of OCD include pervasive and unwanted repetitive thoughts or images and/or compulsive behaviours.
For instance, someone may feel a strong need to check if they locked a door, even though they know they did lock it. Someone else may not only feel the need to check the door but may feel that they need to do it 6 times in a row before they feel comfortable leaving the home. In contrast, some do not have ritual behaviours, rather they suffer purely from repetitive thoughts, some of which can be quite dark (e.g., feeling as though one must crash the car or touch a hot stove).

The essential difficulty with OCD is the self-reinforcing nature of the problem: a repetitive thought arises, a behaviour is enacted to drive down the thought, and the original problem of repetitive thoughts is, therefore strengthened since it was given in to by the compulsive behaviour. This cycle is quite stressful to the individual, as relief only seems to be temporary after quickly giving in to the demanding and repetitive thought. However, as seen below under “Treatments”, the hard work of undoing this cycle is what actually brings long-term relief.

Possible Causes of OCD

OCD runs in families, which shows the likely genetic basis of the disorder. Modern research has shown OCD to have strong neurobiological underpinnings. For instance, Yale University has been investigating the impact of the neurotransmitter, Glutamate, in the disorder. Researchers are beginning to show how some hard to treat symptoms may respond to glutamate based medication, though the findings are still quite new and will need further validation. Additionally, the gene PTPRD has recently been linked to OCD this year by Johns Hopkins University researchers. Such research is quite important as medications work approximately 60—70% of the time, which indicate that with advancing genetic knowledge, further developments in medication may be possible.

Treatment of compulsive behaviour

Medication can be helpful in 60-70% of clients with OCD, with antidepressants (SSRI’s) being the most common ones used. Research has shown that such medications are often effective even if the client does not suffer from symptoms of depression. While we are not able to prescribe medication, we are happy to help with referrals to psychiatrists who do so. In terms of research-proven counselling, the gold standard therapy for OCD is “Exposure and Response Prevention” whereby the obsessions one has been gradually brought into one’s realm of exposure, and the standard response to reduce the immediate anxiety they cause is suppressed. Soothing activities can be implemented to help get through the rise in anxiety that tends to occur. Over time, OCD symptoms tend to reduce and become more manageable.