Free OCD Speakers Series & USC Genetic Study Event

WHEN:
Sunday March 13 2016,  10:30am – 4:00pm (if you have OCD or an OCD related disorder ( hoarding, skin picking, hairpulling, body dysmorphic disorder, you may be eligible to participate! Study enrollment opens at 10:30)

WHERE:
Courtyard Marriott Pasadena
180 N Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA
(Free parking on the street)

RSVP:
By March 7, 2016 to vannoppe@usc.edu

* Light refreshments will be provided

Presentations:

11:00am-12:15pm
Jonathan Grayson, PhD, The Grayson LA Treatment Center for Anxiety and OCD
“The ABC’s of OCD: Understanding OCD and its Treatment”

1:00 pm-1:45 pm:
Barbara Van Noppen, PhD, University of Southern California
“The Role of Family in OCD”

1:45pm-2:30pm:
Chris Trondsen, The Gateway Institute
“Life Beyond OCD”

2:30pm-3:30pm:
Question and Answer Panel

10:30am-4:00pm:
**Study Enrollment all day (compensation will be provided)

* Research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.
   Approved by USC HS-IRB 10-00299.

Relapse Prevention Tips: The Right Attitude

When you are in the middle of suffering from OCD, all of your attention is upon overcoming OCD, that future time when everything will be okay forever.  But it won’t be that way.  Life will be wonderful, but  real life is also full of ups and downs.  After a honeymoon period of having freedom, your next task will be living – finding out how to fill all of that time that used to be devoted to OCD, whether that time way eaten by behavioral or mental rituals.   If you have OCD, you have a wonderfully creative mind and if you don’t use it, OCD will.

And then there is slipping.  It turns out that for any behavior a person has to work on changing , slips will occur.  Your OCD was like a garden full of weeds.  You’ve gone through treatment and worked incredibly hard cleaning out the weeds and planting what you want  –  your garden is beautiful, but weeds will grow.   You have to decide how much effort you want to put into keeping it beautiful, because you can let it get overgrown with weeds again.  The good news is that no matter how much you slip, no matter how weedy your garden becomes, you can always come back, but the more you slip the more work you will have.  In future posts I will discuss some of the relapse prevention that is in my book.  The main focus of this post is a friend of mine, Shala Nicely who is an OCD Therapist; that is, she is a wonderful therapist who treats OCD and she has OCD.  She attended the 2014 International OCD Foundation Conference in LA and attended my “virtual camping” trip.  Shala’s OCD is never going to take control of her again, but she will slip.  Slipping is normal and your relapse prevention work is to make slips less frequent and to keep them small. A major part of the work is learning to have the right attitude.  If you expect to have slips and expect to have to battle them, you will be ready.  If you expect to never have a slip, OCD will blindside you and you will fall.  Click on this link for Shala’s 2014 IOCDF experience to see the fighting attitude you want to learn to adopt to maintain treatment gains.  Shala, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your courage and wisdom.

OCD Treatment In LA!

It’s official, I will be relocating to LA on Dec. 1 this year and starting a new anxiety and OCD treatment center there. The new office will be in LA county (I’m open to suggestions for possible locations, but please have reasons other than convenient to where you might live). Go to LAOCDTreatment.com  for:

  1. New center updates or;
  2. if you are interested in becoming a patient or;
  3. joining the free GOAL support group

 

 

OCD and Hope

OCD can be devastating, but there is treatment that works.  When reading comments from other readers that may sound hopeless, please search through the thread – it is likely that earlier on I did discuss some of what can be done for that manifestation of OCD.  I’ve been working with OCD since 1978 (I know, I’m ancient) and I haven’t seen a manifestation/presentation that can’t be treated successfully.  At the same time, I have seen many people suffer needlessly from bad treatment.  If you’re seeing a therapist and that therapist doesn’t mention exposure and response prevention as a part of treatment, you are probably in the wrong office.  The updated edition of my book (Freedom From OCD) covers many different OCD presentations.  If yours isn’t in it, it doesn’t mean you are untreatable, so there is no reason to give up hope.  A good place to find  a therapist is the Find-A-Therapist section of the International OCD Foundation‘s website and you should look for someone who is BTTI faculty or a BTTI graduate.  Take care all and don’t lose hope.

Freedom From OCD 2nd Edition is Now Available!

The second edition of Freedom From OCD is now available.  It includes updated treatment information (e.g. incorporating ACT into ERP), more OCD presentations (e.g. Relationship OCD, Sensory-Focused OCD, Obsessing about Obsessing) and others.
There is also a website for the new edition:  FreedomFromOCD.com.   The website allows users to download all of the forms that appear in the book for free.  In addition, the FreedomFromOCD.com, website makes available other OCD articles and  MP3s (currently just 1) that can be used for scripts.
The materials on the site are for anyone to use, purchase of the book is not necessary.

SITE NEWS — 2nd Edition of Freedom from OCD has a publication date!

For those of you who have been checking this site, I’d like to thank you for your support and apologize for not blogging enough.

Update on the release of the 2nd edition of Freedom from OCD.  I just heard from the publisher that the release date is April 1, 2014.   At worst, the book would be 1 or 2 weeks later.  The 2nd addition will include additional manifestations of OCD, such a relationship OCD, sections on coping with treatment interfering behaviors (TIBs), how to add Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to your program of exposure and response prevention and much more.  In addition, because in the electronic editions of the book, the forms aren’t printable, they will be available for free download on a site, that I will announce when we have it up and running.

Again thanks for your patience and remember, OCD is a problem that can be ruled by you rather than the reverse.

Knowing You Have OCD With Certainty

Max in a post to this site asked what about convincing someone, with certainty, that they have OCD, since this would be comforting and reassuring.   There are three problems with this approach.  First, as I’ve noted elsewhere, research has shown us that the only people who have absolute certainty are stupid, which eliminates this as a possibility for most OCD sufferers.  Seriously, we find that attempts to reassure oneself by saying ‘x’ is OCD followed by the comfort that I don’t have to worry about ‘x,’ tends to be a short run solution.  Usually the sufferer at some point will then begin to obsess and try to reassure him/herself that the problem is OCD and the circle goes round and round (this is 2 of the three points).  We are for the sufferer admitting that it is likely that they have OCD, but that this is independent of whether or not there feared consequences are avoidable.  For example, if your OCD issues focus on wanting your loved ones to never die, the fact this is an OCD concern is independent of the fact that your loved ones might die at any time, so treatment has to help you cope with this fact of life.  Now it is true that some OCD concerns may involve lower probability fears, but that isn’t relevant to treatment.  Whatever you fear is what the focus of treatment needs to be on.   The goal is always twofold: I need to cope with the uncertainty that ‘x’ may happen; and no matter how horrific ‘x’ is, I need to try to figure out a positive way to cope with it, if it does happen.

Answer to Patrick’s Obsessing about Obsessing Post

Patrick, I assume you read the post article here about obsessing about obsessing, so I will not repeat what was there.  This form of OCD is a difficult one to help a sufferer understand what to do and I apologize if this doesn’t seem clear.  In your post you ask if you should ruminate and  I would re-word that to say exposure, since ruminating suggests ritualizing to me.  You mention that you have a number of feared consequences (e.g. becoming poor) that you say may happen.  This would not be enough.  How would you attempt to cope with them in a positive way.  How would you get on welfare and make the best of it.  So part of the exposure would be very detailed that if these things happened what would I do.  The reason for this is that if these things actually happened, life would go on and a person would have to continue.  Though being poor would be very difficult, people in dire straits can still have enjoyment, even if it is less in their life.

Second, whenever you are doing something, we would like some attention paid to whatever good is actually going on.  While learning to overcome this form OCD, it is important to learn how to notice whatever level of enjoyment is present, whether it be 80%, 50% or just 10%.  It is learning to accept that this is my current best and so I might as well get something out of it.

The goal is learning to be able to have the thoughts in your head and feel anxious and learning how to cope with this while it is happening.  This is very easy for me to say and it is lots of work to learn how to do.  Obviously if it were easy enough to explain it all in a post, you would have figured it out on your own.  But you can learn how to do this.  Finally, it is true that OCD is both learned and biological.  I have given you some advice for the learned part and an OCD specialist would be useful for you to be seeing.  Medication would quite likely be a very helpful addition to your treatment and it is usually in the form of an SSRI for those who suffer from OCD.  I hope this provides you with some help and hope.

Susan’s mental obsessions and religious concerns.

Susan’s mental obsessions and religious concerns.
We actually have a sizable number of Orthodox Jews in our practice with a variety of religious concerns. You describe a few different problems with your OCD: words and images you have in your head that you don’t like; concerns about your own level of observance and how G-d may judge this; and finally how you will be judged by your peers. Each of these is a different feared consequence for the general concern about your religious practices. With mental obsessions, it is not the content of the thought that makes something an OCD problem — all thoughts, no matter how bizarre they may seem to you are normal. They become an OCD problem when you want to know what they mean or want to stop them. With you the goals would be twofold – helping you live with the thoughts (once you are able to live with them, they become less frequent and when they occur you would care less) and helping you to accept what you can’t know. In this second category, your neighbors say nothing about your level of observance, but it is true that some may be fine with it and some not. We can never please everyone. With regard to G-d, all of us could attempt to become saints and few do. Even the more observant in your neighborhood could always do more. Treatment would help you to accept that you can’t know the mind of G-d and that your goal would to trust in His judgement even if it went against you, because you’d like your faith to be strong enough to accept whatever He decides. Obviously this isn’t easy, but that is why treatment is necessary. It is likely that their are experienced OCD therapists where you live, especially in the major metropolitan areas (NYC, Washington, Chicago, LA). You can check with the International OCD Foundation to see if there are experienced OCD therapists in your area.   Your other posts are thoughtful, but I wonder if they are a little bit compulsive in trying to assure/explain yourself to others.

Answer to Ed and his pursuit of the perfect looking princess girlfriend.

Answer to Ed and his pursuit of the perfect looking princess girlfriend.
What you are describing could be described as reverse BDD (body dysmorphic dysorder). For anyone, if you stare at a face or body long enough, you will find imperfections and if your OCD attaches to this and you don’t do any treatment, then you will find this problem with anyone you date. If you want to overcome this, which would mean ultimately being able to be in a good relationship, be a good parent and have a partner you can love and depend upon for life, you will have to make a few decisions. And once you make these decisions, you will need to go through the difficult, but not impossible, process of learning to implement them. The decisions are deciding that you want to live with a person who will never look as perfect as you want. The two reasons for this are the one above – you will always find imperfections – and because whomever you are with will age. It may seem like you can’t get your mind off of the imperfections, but learning how to live with them is the process of therapy. You can check with the International OCD Foundation (www.ocfoundation.org) to see if there are experienced OCD therapists in your area.