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How Hypnotherapy Helps Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (often known as OCD) is a form of anxiety which affects between 1 and 2% of people, regardless of age, social group, gender or ethnic background. This form of anxiety commonly starts in late adolescence or early adulthood, but can begin at any time. Whilst the majority of individuals will at some point in their lives experience stress and anxiety, and perhaps may feel they are acting in an obsessive way about something, they are nonetheless able to live their lives without disruption. This is not the case if you are suffering with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
The best treatments for OCD
The treatments widely recognised to be the most effective for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder involve relaxation, discussion and challenging the accuracy of your thoughts and beliefs (known as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), and working with you to enable you to practice NOT responding in the habitual manner – this is known as Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Hypnosis is used to enable you to do this, and to explore the outcome of not carrying out the usual rituals (which can be behavioural – something which you do – or purely internal – “thinking things through” in a repetitive, ordered way). The deep sense of calm and relaxation experienced during hypnotherapy allows you to get through the experience of feeling compelled to do something (or to think in a certain way), but not in fact doing so, without the high level of anxiety that would normally accompany this. Of course, no catastrophic outcome follows from failure to carry out the obsessive compulsive routine. You soon gains confidence in the idea that it is not in fact harmful to avoid the compulsive behaviours; and from there a normal routine can gradually be re-established. The practice of refraining from the activity first takes place with the therapist present – a technique known as exposure and response prevention. Your ability, initially whilst undergoing hypnotherapy, to ignore the compulsion without undue anxiety makes you more willing and able to continue practising this in daily life.
Exposure and Response Prevention for OCD
Together with relaxation techniques, hypnosis and CBT, a very important part of the treatment of OCD is Exposure and Response Prevention. ERP takes the form of assignments which you must carry out, testing to see what happens when you don’t perform your compulsive behaviour. It is done very gently and gradually so that you are not overwhelmed by anxious thoughts and feelings. Although you feel the compulsion to pick your skin, count, check, repeat certain behaviours, wash your hands , or repeat to yourself a list of words or names – whatever your own compulsion is, you stop yourself from doing it, for a given period of time. This period of time gradually gets longer. The idea is that rather than relieving the anxiety you feel by carrying out your compulsion (skin picking, counting, checking, extreme tidiness, compulsive showering, washing or whatever it is that you feel compelled to do), you live with the feeling of anxiety. Usually, if you suffer with OCD, you will not allow yourself to remain feeling uncomfortable or anxious for long enough to realize that, even if you don’t carry out your compulsion, the anxiety will subside on its own. You concentrate on feeling better in the short term, rather than on dealing with the longer term problem of the OCD. ERP encourages OCD sufferers to expose themselves to their obsessions and anxieties, but without resorting to the compulsions which normally make them those thoughts and anxieties go away. This type of therapy is known to work extremely well. Hypnosis and self hypnosis are also taught , alongside a programme of ERP, in order to keep your general levels of anxiety lower than would normally be the case, so that when you try ERP your anxiety does not become too difficult to cope with.
Hypnosis and Relaxation
Hypnotherapy teaches you to relax, and to learn to switch on relaxation as easily as you are currently able to switch on feelings of anxiety. A general lowering of stress and anxiety levels follows, which in itself means that it is easier for the obsessive compulsive sufferer to “shrug off” the obsessive thoughts, and eventually less likely that such thoughts will occur at all. Anxiety is at the root of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; you seek to alleviate anxiety by a series of ritual practices or thought processes – compulsions. Until you do them, there is often a nagging sense, which builds and builds, of something not being quite right; a feeling of discomfort. If you have OCD it may be that you do not carry out any particular behaviours; some compulsions involve having to think things through in a particular way, rather than a compulsion to carry out a physical act.
Use hypnosis, not rituals, to relieve your anxiety
Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are a way of teaching you to use relaxation to lower your anxiety levels rather than using these distressing, embarrassing and time consuming physical and mental rituals. Rather than being rewarded by a temporary lowering of anxiety when ritual or repetitive behaviour is performed – which leads you to feel compelled to repeat the action again shortly afterwards, in order to feel again the relief from anxiety – obsessive compulsive sufferers learn using hypnotherapy to permanently get rid of anxiety, using relaxation. It is a physical impossibility to be relaxed and anxious at the same time, just as you cannot be both hungry and full, or hot and cold. In addition to this, specific suggestions are made whilst you are in hypnosis to replace negative and troubling thoughts – about germs or dirt, or the consequences of not switching a light on and off a certain number of times, for example – with more realistic, accurate ideas about the true level of risk. Hypnosis also allows the sufferer whose compulsions are to think things through in a particular way to “let go” of those thoughts. The relaxation experienced in a hypnotherapy session allows you the freedom of NOT thinking things through – but without the accompanying anxiety which you fear will occur if you don’t think about things in the habitual way. Hypnosis therefore allows you to gain confidence that there will be no untoward consequences of NOTthinking in the usual way, or of not carrying out the usual rituals.
Symptoms of OCD
The symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder vary widely but many people with OCD suffer from one or more of the following: phobias of dirt or germs, extreme anxiety about making mistakes or saying the wrong thing, excessive fear and anxiety about embarrassment or of behaviour being unacceptable, extreme superstitions, a need for undue order, tidiness or symmetry, anxiety if not constantly reassured, and excessive fear and anxiety about causing harm to others. Extreme forms of skin picking, hair pullingand nail biting are thought to be symptoms of OCD. To overcome the anxiety experienced due to intrusive and irrational thoughts – obsessions – sufferers of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder form rituals and patterns of behaviour – compulsions – in an attempt to gain peace of mind. These compulsions, to do or say certain things, or to repeat words or thoughts, is understood by sufferers to protect them from bad consequences. These include repeated hand washing or showering/bathing, obsessive cleaning of the home or work environment, collecting or hoarding (due to anxiety that something bad will happen if something is thrown away), repeating actions a certain number of times, checking that actions have been performed – lights and appliances switched off, doors locked, windows shut, items tidied in a particular way – and internal repetition of words, phrases or prayers – counting, memorizing, equalizing. This is “magical thinking” – there is of course no evidence that checking seven times that you have locked the garage door will protect your loved ones from, say, a car accident – but the anxiety experienced is very real, and temporary relief from stress and anxiety is therefore obtained by repetition of the compulsive behaviour. Sufferers therefore feel the need to continue to repeat the compulsive behaviour in order to gain further relief from the anxiety they feel.
If you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you may well be are aware that your behaviour is abnormal, but nevertheless feel unable to control it. You feel compelled to act according to your own internal rules, in a repetitive manner, or to “think things through” in a particular way. It is extremely distressing both for you and for your family and friends. The obsessive behaviours and repetitive thoughts significantly interfere with work, school, and social and family life, taking anywhere upwards of an hour a day to carry out. Many people with OCD also suffer with insomnia, work related stress, low self esteem and phobias.
Manchester hypnosis by qualified and registered hypnotherapists
A qualified hypnotherapist can help you to examine their thoughts and ideas, to demonstrate that the rituals can be ignored without harm occurring, and to teach deep relaxation using hypnosis. Rather than using compulsive behaviours for temporary relief, you learn that freedom from stress and anxiety IS possible without resorting to rituals which at best are time consuming and disruptive and at worst can take over your life. You will be encouraged to give up your compulsive behaviours and thinking patterns, by ignoring the urge to carry them out (Exposure and Response Prevention). Initially this may increase the anxiety you feel. But think of it as testing out your belief that something bad will happen if you don’t carry out the behaviour – you don’t carry it out – and whilst you may feel your anxiety increase, there are no other bad consequences. With practice, your confidence increases – you learn that you can ignore your compulsions, without anything bad happening. Gradually the anxiety you feel when you ignore the compulsion diminishes, until you have formed a new habit of NOT checking, or cleaning, or listing, or counting, or equalizing.
Hypnotherapy in Stockport
The therapists at this Stockport hypnotherapy clinic are Manchester’s top independently rated therapists in anxiety and phobia treatment. If you want to find a hypnotherapist in south Manchester to help you to stop your rituals, your repetitive, obsessive thoughts and behaviours, or to help stop stress and anxiety, claustrophobia, emotional problems such as jealousy and insecurity, panic attacks, or low self esteem, then go to any of the independent websites which list and give reviews of hypnotherapists (for example www.freeindex.co.uk – you can also see reviews on Google) and see what others say about us. If you would like further information about hypnosis in Stockport, for insomnia, to stop smoking, self esteem and confidence, depression, for help with weight loss, to stop bad habits such as nail biting orteeth grinding, or for any other problem, please call 07779 575 816 for a free, no obligation, confidential discussion.
Hypnosis and hypnotherapy in Didsbury, Manchester – convenient for Chorlton, Gatley, Cheadle, Stockport, Altrincham, Hale and all areas of south and central Manchester. Click here for further details ofhow to find us.