Our Experience and Training
Our lead psychologist, Colin Matthews, is highly experienced in the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). He trained at Warneford Hospital (Oxford), one of two centres of excellence in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) in the UK. He has practised CBT for OCD for the last 20 years and works with young people and adults.
Colin has worked successfully with some of the most chronic and complex presentations of OCD.
The difficulties with OCD tend not to only affect the individual but also affect their partners, their family and their friends. People living with and/or trying to help the person with OCD often end up as distressed as the person themselves.
Colin therefore works in a systemic manner, seeing both the individual and members of the household as required to determine what is maintaining the OCD and to work at reducing the impact, the symptoms, the distress and anxiety.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is an anxiety disorder. Between 1% and 3% of the population are likely to be diagnosed with OCD at any one time. There are, however, different subtypes of OCD. People who have OCD may experience difficulties in all areas or only one or two. The areas identified with OCD are:
You are likely to check items until you are sure that they are the way you need them to be in order to stop something bad happening. For example, ensuring that all the plugs in the house are removed from their sockets every night so that the house does not catch fire. The act itself may have to be checked again and again until it ‘feels right’. Checking and Doubting often go together.
Doubting that you have done something even although you can see that you have. Essentially, facts that would confirm what you need to know are not accepted. For example, while you can see that a tap is in the ‘off’ position and you can further identify this by the lack of running water, you refuse to believe your eyes and ears and will become anxious unless you go to the tap and turn it on and off again.
Washing (Germ Phobia)
For someone with this type of OCD, life can be unbearably hard. Cleanliness is extremely important to the point of potentially causing harm to ourselves and certainly causing distress and inconvenience. A person with this type of OCD is likely to have experienced significantly more distress during COVID and felt more justified in their actions.
People may need to wash their hands excessively to make sure that they are clean and may need to continually wipe down surfaces such as kitchen tops or chairs. They almost certainly would be distressed about having to use a public toilet for fear of germs.
Since COVID was first highlighted, it is likely that there are far more cases now of germ phobia. The general population has been educated in the way that viruses are transmitted. As a nation, we have been actively encouraged to prevent spread of airborne virus. Coming out of lockdown, we need to reassess risk for ourselves and determine how much effort we are prepared to put in to mitigate risks we have (except for during the pandemic) lived with all our lives.
Essentially worrying about something to the point of exhaustion. For example where a sexual image comes into your mind about a member of your family you might worry why you had this thought and worry that it could come true.
All of us have intrusive thoughts but generally dismiss them as bizarre. People who obsess about thoughts often believe that thinking about something is the same as doing something. These intrusive and unwanted thoughts can cause great anxiety and days of obsessing.
The act of doing something unconnected with an initial act in order to ‘neutralise’ its impact. For example, making sure that you run to a lamppost within 10 seconds to ensure the thought that you had that your mother was going to die in a car crash does not happen.
Anxiety is likely to occur if the neutralising act is not achieve and it will need to either be repeated or another act performed instead.
Making sure that everything is in order. People may need tins in a cupboard to all be facing the same way or might need items or numbers in a specific sequence.
Anxiety will result if things are not the way they are ‘meant’ to be or something occurs out of sequence.
Please contact Erko Psychology for further information and to book an appointment.