“Blah, blah, blah, do the thing you are afraid of.

Blah, blah, blah, the more you do it, the less afraid you will be.”

 

I wish I could recall where I first read that quote, as I consider it the most straight forward, simple, and true approach to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The quote was taken from a story where a psychologist was working with a 6yr girl on her OCD. The psychologist asked “Does your father help you with your OCD?”  And the little girl said “Yes, he says …‘Blah, blah, blah, do the thing you are afraid of. Blah, blah, blah, the more you do it, the less afraid you will be.’”

While the little girl may not have known it, she explained Exposure with Response Prevention (EWRP) in its most basic form. If you have read or researched treatments for OCD, you have probably seen info on EWRP. It is arguably the most empirically validated psychological intervention for OCD, meaning, research evaluating interventions for OCD found EWRP to have the highest impact versus others in the study.

In essence, EWRP has the person (with the therapist) expose themselves to the obsessive stimuli (the feared subject matter), such as his/her hands being dirty/contaminated, and then prevent the compulsive response, likely being hand washing. Now this does not happy all at once, but rather in a gradual, and more specifically, graded approach. Through practicing, and it really is practice, the person becomes progressively “less afraid of it,” as the young girl indicates. And over time, the compulsions and obsessions reduce and extinguish.

Thanks for Reading, and Happy Living!

Dr. Dahl