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OCD is like having a bully stuck inside your head and nobody else can see it. 1

OCD is when you know that a behavior is silly — yet you feel compelled to do it anyway to make your anxiety go away.

Let’s start with the premise that OCD is caused by anxiety, which is not a pleasant emotion. We naturally want to avoid experiencing it, so we often do whatever it takes to ensure that happens.

For instance, if you have a fear of contamination, you’re likely going to avoid using public restrooms. If you HAVE to use one, you would do compulsive behaviors to make sure you are ‘clean enough’. Avoidance and compulsive behaviors may seem harmless, but they can actually be the opposite.

If you avoid your fears, you’ll never have the chance to face them.

To continue the example, if you use excessive cleaning techniques, you never learn that your contamination fears may not be real. When you avoid (or do compulsive behaviors) over and over again, it actually makes you feel more afraid and thus the anxiety gets stronger.

CBT therapy can help!


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How can CBT therapy help with OCD?

At Collaborative CBT, we specialize in Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), which is extremely effective in helping treat OCD.

Exposure therapy involves exposing yourself to situations or objects that you fear (in a safe and nonjudgmental space) with the goal of learning to cope with the discomfort.

Over time, you should notice a decrease in the intensity of your fear – until one day you find it no longer affects you.

We will practice this together by identifying your anxiety triggers and developing a safe plan to gently expose you to those triggers, both in session and on your own.

For example, if you have a fear of flying, we won’t start by getting on a plane. Instead, we’ll watch a YouTube video of a plane taking off, book a ticket online (refundable of course), go to the airport without flying, etc.

Whatever it is that triggers your OCD, CBT therapy can help. Reach out today to learn more!

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You may be wondering ...

» What exactly is OCD?

The name says it all. OCD is an anxiety disorder best described by the presence of obsessions and compulsions.

Obsessions are usually intrusive thoughts that are distressing and increase anxiety levels. They tend to cause compulsive behaviors that attempt to reduce your anxiety. While these behaviors may cause some short term reduction, these compulsive strategies ultimately cause more anxiety in the long run.

» What does OCD look like?

While there are a number of different types of obsessions and compulsions, these are some common examples.

Performing Mistakes or Causing Harm

  • Anxiety around making mistakes that may result in other people being hurt
  • Fear of harming someone accidentally due to carelessness
  • Anxiety around not doing enough to prevent bad things from happening
  • Superstitions and bad luck (numbers such as 13, 666, 911, opening umbrellas indoors, etc.)


  • Fear of bodily fluids like blood, urine, saliva
  • Fear of germs from dirt and animals
  • Avoidance of toxic chemicals (pesticides, cleaning products)
  • Avoidance of certain places or types of people
  • Fear of spreading contamination to others

Order and Symmetry

  • Idea that things need to be arranged perfectly
  • Even/Odd numbers; Left/Right symmetry
  • Having everything neat and in its place at all times

Violence and Aggression

  • Fear of hurting/killing people, or yourself, even though you don’t want to
  • Fear of violent images or thoughts, and the urge to act on unwanted impulses
  • Fear of words associated with violence or death
  • Fear of the urge to say or yell offensive things (slurs, insults, cursing, etc.)

Sex and Relationships

  • Fear of acting on perverse sexual topics such as pedophilia, incest, or beastiality
  • Fear of acting on aggressive sexual behaviors
  • Constantly needing to seek reassurance and approval from your partner
  • Doubts about your partner’s faithfulness despite evidence to the contrary
  • Fear that you may cheat on your partner even though you don’t want to

Religion and Morality

  • Fear of following religious teachings well enough
  • Fear of sin, hell, and religious punishment
  • Fear of accidentally doing something that is considered immoral


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