U was a hard one at first, but I remembered how many times I've encountered concern about having unique fears on the OCD Support Yahoo group, and in my own OCD support group, and in comments and emails from readers. OCD is as diverse as the people who suffer from it, with obsessions and compulsions that can be as unique as a fingerprint, but sharing the commonality of being human, and suffering from this disorder.
- There is a despair that you are the only person who has a unique set of symptoms, and therefore maybe it's not really OCD, but something more dire.
- There is fear that if no one else has these symptoms, no therapist will be able to help.
- There is a visceral panic that the very bizarreness of your thoughts is a sign about you as a person, and your worth.
OCD is strangely unknown. Yes, there are whole reality TV shows devoted to it, but when faced with a patient in their office, it is all too easy for therapists to be distracted by the individual symptoms, trying to figure them out, trace their causes. This is what works in therapy for many other problems. I believe that recognizing OCD can be learned. My therapist didn't start out as an ERP therapist, but his OCD patients weren't getting better, and he wanted to learn more, and he educated himself, and now wants to go out and spread the word to his colleagues through continuing education and conferences.
It's like when someone mentions something and then you see it everywhere, but before then, you never noticed. Here is my prescription for therapists who want to learn more:
- Read Jonathan Grayson's Freedom From OCD to get the basics of ERP
- Read messages on OCD Support, and PureO, and Anxiety Zone. Scan at least a year's worth of threads, and note the recurring themes(but you do not need to replicate my compulsive reading of all the archives of OCD Support. . .)
- Go to the IOCDF Conference and or/become a member of IOCDF and read the newsletter. If you are therapist check out the Behavior Therapy Training Institute. They the IOCDF also has a list of treatment providers.