Imagine spending over a decade, knowing something isn’t right. Maybe someone could help, but the feelings of shame are unbearable. The opinions of doctors and friends only add to your confusion and distress. Finally, someone mentions Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. But could that be? Your unwanted thoughts have never been about having things alphabetized and color coded. You’re not “sooo OCD!” Are you?
Now imagine you’re a clinician, and a client tells you their main anxiety is about murdering a loved one. Would this indicate a referral out for schizophrenia or psychosis? If a client expresses concerns about their sexual orientation because they keep having thoughts about the “wrong” gender, we are likely to offer affirmative and supportive therapy while they explore their identity. Yet these worries could be OCD. The symptoms of OCD can be very different than the media’s images of checking or hand washing. These two OCD subtypes, harm/aggression and sexual, are the most frequently misdiagnosed.
When appropriate treatment is available, recovery from OCD is possible. Yet someone living with OCD may experience symptoms for more than 15 years before a diagnosis. For service providers, training and clinical support are a vital part of accurate diagnosis and treatment of OCD. Marriage and Family Therapists, and other systemically-trained clinicians, are uniquely situated as providers in the treatment of OCD, as it is a condition the family likely accommodated for years, and thus the family also plays a vital supportive role in recovery.
RESOURCES FOR PROFESSIONALS
The International OCD Foundation works to increase access to effective treatment, end the stigma associated with mental health issues, and foster a community for those affected by OCD and the professionals who treat them. Its Behavior Therapy Training Institute offers clinicians specialized training for focused on the diagnosis and treatment of OCD.
OCD Washington is a newly formed nonprofit in Seattle. It is a resource for those with OCD, their families, and clinicians. An affiliate of The International OCD Foundation, its mission is focused on helping sufferers of OCD get appropriate treatment, providing a community of support to sufferers and their families, as well as assuring clinicians and researchers receive the best information and training available.
OCD Awareness Week is October 9 through 15, 2016 and OCD Washington is hosting several events, including an art show and movie afternoon. You can find more information at www.ocdwashington.org
Kate Reeves, MA, LMFT, is a founding board member of OCD Washington. Her private practice in Bellevue specializes in the treatment of OCD, anxiety, and related disorders. She is also an adjunct faculty member of Antioch University Seattle, teaching graduate students how to utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and ACT in their clinical work. For more information or to contact her, visit www.TherapyForGeeks.com.