OCD is a common problem that is not easily treated. However it has been shown that significant improvement can be seen with CBT. This can be achieved by using a CBT based self-help book or through more intensive therapist support. Not one method will work for everyone.OCD is characterized by the frequency of obsessions and compulsions. An obsession is a persistent thought, image or urge that comes into your mind and sets off feelings of anxiety and distress. These obsessions occur frequently, are intrusive and not easy to get rid of. For example, common obsessions in OCD include thoughts or images of violence; fear of contamination and sickness, and out of control sexual thoughts. In OCD, a compulsion is an act or ritual that is repeated and repeated in reaction to an obsessive thought. A compulsion may be a behavioral act such as repeatedly checking the stove to make certain it is off, or a mental act such as saying something or picturing something to make the distressing feeling, associated with the obsessive thought feels better.
Normally, the person with OCD tries to get rid of the obsessions by focusing on the obsessions. With OCD, this is the very factor keeping their OCD going strong. This is because people with OCD commonly give a special meaning or powerfulness to their obsessive thoughts, usually that having the thought will lead to something bad happening to themselves or others. As a consequence, the person will usually mistakenly believe that the way to solve the obsessive thought is to try to block it or carry out a compulsion to “undo” the thought. It is much better to change your focus to a different activity, one that takes your concentration and will change your focus without you trying to do so. What we know is that our brains work in such a way that trying to block a thought will only make it more frequent and whilst carrying out a compulsion will make the person feel better initially, it will actually feed the OCD so that the problem keeps going.
The most common factors that keep the cycle of obsessive thinking going are giving thoughts more meaning then they deserve, misunderstanding about why you have the particular obsessions you have, avoidance and safety seeking behavior, giving too much time and attention to your obsessions, trying to control your thoughts and biases thinking.
CBT therapy works with the brain by helping the person unravel the factors that maintain their OCD in order to build a different solution to overcome it. It is essentially learning to build new habits. Treatment will train oneself to counteract the obsessions and compulsions with correct behavior, behaviors that will naturally take your mind from the obsessions. This cannot be done alone and should be addressed with the help of your therapist. This basically involves accepting your obsessive thoughts in such a way that you learn to tolerate the anxiety which accompanies them without carrying out any compulsions. Eventually the anxiety naturally fades so that you will be able to experience the thought without finding it near as distressing; and better yet, without the need for the compulsive behaviors it brings.