Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why do Exposure Therapy?

So here's the thing. Exposure Therapy for OCD is asking you to do what you don't want to do. If it were in flow chart form it would be boiled down to "Don't want to do it? Do it." This can be a hard sell. I pity the poor Exposure Therapists who get to present this to someone suffering with obsessions and compulsions.

In my last post I wrote about delaying getting on the computer, and doing this as an Exposure. Why would I do this? I feel anxious when I don't turn the computer on. I have too much time to ruminate about my anxieties if I am not distracting myself. But there is part of me that has dreams, and wants to live my life, not live the life OCD chooses for me. OCD is all about getting the anxiety level down by doing a compulsion; the rest of your life be damned.

I am not talking about being abusive, or harsh or punishing. I may take infinitely small steps in my Exposures, but it's not a race, or a TV show, and doing what I don't want to do is scary and takes courage and I have people in my life who understand that and encourage me. Exposure Therapy isn't a religion that I must follow, but a treatment that many clinicians have worked on developing over the past 40 years or so, based on observing what works. They aren't just making this stuff up.

Now, there are still gaps and shortcomings in our current treatments for OCD, but I will be writing some future posts on the history of OCD treatment, highlighting the breakthroughs and evolution of Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy. 40 years ago many thought patients with OCD were hopeless, and I want to pay tribute to those who searched for an answer, who believed hope was possible.

Part 1: The History of Exposure Therapy: Dr. Victor Meyer and Ritual Prevention


  1. I look forward to reading what you have to say!

  2. Looks like it will be an interesting post. Can't wait to read it.

  3. Great idea! And I agree, It isn't a race. Just keep at it. In my experience, each victory, no matter how small, feeds the next.