Compulsions & OCD

Habits and compulsions can range from the mildly annoying to the chronically life interrupting. Even something as seemingly common as nail biting can have an extremely negative effect if every time a person feels anxious they bite their nails down to the quick! Hair pulling (trichotillomania), skin picking, lip chewing are all common habits that can escalate into compulsions, especially at times of stress. I have successfully helped many people to rid themselves of such habits using hypnosis. By lowering stress levels and bringing the habit from the unconscious to the conscious mind, the habit can be made more aware of and easily stopped.

More serious than habits and compulsions is OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a condition that is often mentioned, but seldom understood. OCD has become a catch all term for describing anyone who is overly neat and tidy or has stringent standards of hygiene, but for sufferers of actual OCD these rituals are linked to feelings of deep distress; uncontrolled, intrusive thoughts; panic, fear and anxiety. These thoughts are often unrelated to the particular action, and subsequently are hard to rationalise once OCD has taken hold.

OCD is often symptomatic of depression and anxiety, and often present alongside eating disorders, addiction and PTSD. Some people may not even realise they have OCD and just assume that the intrusive thoughts and compulsive habits are part of another mental health issue or even just part of their personality. There are various treatments for OCD, most commonly Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and medication is prescribed, but increasingly hypnotherapy is being recommended, either as a stand-alone treatment or in conjunction with other treatment.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help in several ways. Firstly it can help explain to the OCD sufferer how their brain works, separating the symptoms of OCD from rational thought and helping the client gain back some control. Secondly, hypnotherapy lowers anxiety and subsequently can be useful in breaking the cycle of anxiety and symptoms. Hypnotherapy can also help with the depression that may accompany OCD, helping a client feel more positive and motivated to deal with their symptoms, and to imagine a preferred future beyond OCD. Solution Focused Therapy can also help a client come up with practical solutions for dealing with symptoms, which when combined CBT techniques can be really beneficial.

Photo by Petras Gagilas via Flickr