Education and Specialties

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

OCD is a condition that impacts your ability to function and live life in accordance to your values. Those with symptoms of OCD experience unwanted thoughts, images, or bodily sensations that cause anxiety, which leads one to engage in a compulsion (mental or behavioral) to reduce the anxiety.

OCD can be thought of as a “broken alarm system” meaning the part of your brain responsible for our fight or flight response is hyperactive. Even when someone logically understands that intrusive thoughts pose no threat, the brain makes it “feel real” and threatening. To deal with this sense of danger, one believes they must do a compulsion in order to find relief.

There are many different themes of OCD and this varies from person to person. However, the universal difficulty when it comes to OCD is tolerating uncertainty.

I have experience and work with all themes of OCD:

I have experience and work with all themes of OCD:

Pure-O OCD – intrusive thoughts/images with only mental compulsions such as rumination or self-reassurance

Contamination OCD – fears about getting sick (e.g., COVID, HIV/AIDS, cancer) or intense feelings of disgust

  • Disgust OCD – fear of coming into contact with someone/something that is “dirty” leading one to feel disgusted
  • Responsibility OCD – fear of contracting and passing a disease to others

Somatic OCD – obsessive concerns of bodily sensations

  • Hyperawareness of bodily sensations (e.g., blinking, swallowing, heart beat, tingling)
  • Fear you may never stop noticing sensations
  • Fear that bodily sensations may be a sign of a serious condition (e.g., heart attack)

Harm OCD – fears about harming others

  • Fear of harming a child, loved one, or stranger
  • Fear of self-harm or suicide
  • Fear of sexually assaulting someone in past or future
  • Hit-and-run – fear of harming someone while driving
  • Postpartum – fear of harming your newborn baby

Relationship OCD – obsessive concerns about not being with the “right” person or that your partner may leave you

  • Fear of being with the “wrong person”
  • Fear your partner might not be “the one”
  • Fear you may not be attracted to your partner
  • Fear you don’t love your partner or that your partner doesn’t love you
  • Fear your partner may leave you

Sexual Orientation OCD – obsessive concerns about possibly having a different sexual identity

  • Fear you may be a different sexual orientation
  • Fear of being/becoming transgender

Existential OCD – obsessions with philosophical questions or not understanding reality

  • Fear of never knowing what you truly believe or want in life
  • Fear of being in a dream or a different reality
  • Fear of not understanding consciousness

Scrupulosity (Religious OCD) – obsessive concerns regarding religious and moral beliefs

  • Fear of consequences for going against religious beliefs/rules
  • Fear of sinning or doing something immoral
  • Fear of afterlife

Pedophilia OCD – obsessive concerns about being a child molester

  • Fears of having conducted acts of pedophilia in the past or that you may in the future
  • Fear that intrusive thoughts/images about children means you are a pedophile
  • Fear of having an arousal (e.g., groinal) response around children

“Just Right” OCD – a strong urge/need for absolute order, symmetry, cleanliness, and scheduling

  • Engaging in a task until it feels “right”
  • Difficulty tolerating anything not in its “correct” place
  • Making decisions based on which one feels “right” which leads to procrastination
  • Need clothing to fit or look “right”

Racism OCD – obsessive concerns about being a racist

  • Fear of yelling racial slurs in public
  • Fear of being “cancelled” for saying something politically incorrect

Mental Illness OCD – obsessive concerns about becoming severely mentally ill

  • Fear of developing a severe mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia)
  • Fear of going “crazy” and losing control
  • Fear OCD symptoms may be hallucinations/delusions

How do I treat OCD?

Individualized Treatment Plan – Everyone is impacted by OCD differently, therefore it is important to develop a treatment plan that works for your unique symptoms. I will work collaboratively with you to develop an individualized plan tailored to your goals, values, and needs. You determine how fast or slow we go in treatment. I will meet you where you are at!

Psychoeducation – There are many misconceptions and stereotypes about OCD. It is my job to make sure you fully understand your symptoms and how compulsions are reinforcing them. I will help you understand the the underpinnings of OCD, your triggers/symptoms, and what treatment will look like.

Modern Evidence-based Treatments – I am trained in two of the most effective treatments for OCD that are backed by research!

  • Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP) – This is considered the “gold standard” treatment for OCD. ERP will involve building a hierarchy of feared stimuli and gradually engaging in exposures at increasing difficulty. ERP also involves tools and techniques to disengage from compulsions (i.e., response prevention). Exposures may consist of imaginal exposures and/or in vivo exposures (i.e., real life situations).
  • Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) – There has been new research looking at the effectiveness of combining ERP with ACT as opposed to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ACT teaches us what is called “psychological flexibility” through mindfulness, willingness, and acceptance. Through ACT we learn how to look at thoughts and emotions from a distance and accept their presence instead of trying to change or avoid them.

Whether you’re ready to schedule or just have a question, set up a free consult by using the Get In Touch form below!

Get In Touch

37 E. 36th Street


Get In Touch

37 E. 36th Street


Disclaimer: This site should not be construed as therapeutic recommendations or personalized advice. Interaction with this blog does not constitute a therapeutic relationship. This blog aims to provide general information for educational purposes only. It is not intended or implied to supplement or replace the advice of your mental health professional. This information should not be used to self-diagnose mental health conditions. Consult with your mental health provider before implementing anything read here.