Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Our lead psychologist, Colin Matthews, is highly experienced in the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). He trained at Warneford Hospital in Oxford in the UK, one of two centres of excellence in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) in the UK, and has practised CBT for OCD in the National Health Service and in his own private practice for the last 17 years. He has worked successfully with some of the most chronic and complex presentations of OCD. He works with children, young people and adults with 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 frustrated and 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 is an anxiety disorder which is experienced by between 1% and 3% of the population. There are various components to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and not all sufferers will experience problems in more than one area. The areas identified with OCD are:


Checking 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.


What many people understand as OCD is the need to wash our hands excessively. For someone with this type (sub-class) 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. People may need to wash their hands with bleach to make sure that they are clean and made 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.


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 doubted. 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.


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. Again, 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. This could be tins in the cupboard all facing the same way or needing items or numbers in a specific sequence. Again, 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.