A client at Morningside Recovery describes her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): “At work I would push in everybody’s chair and I would clean the microwave every evening. Sometimes I’d have to wait until everybody left because I was afraid somebody would get it dirty after I left. The cleaning continued at home and I was constantly tired.” Clients with OCD are besieged by intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images or impulses (obsessions), and are compelled to perform behavioral and mental rituals (compulsions). Treatment at Morningside Recovery offers relief from this exhausting, life-consuming disease. Treatment of OCD seeks to reduce the recurrent and persistent thoughts, and also control the repetitive and ritualistic actions.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found to be an effective treatment of OCD and this treatment approach is used at Morningside to combat symptoms such as fear of harm from illness or excessive sense of responsibility for preventing harm. A big step is having clients recognize their behavior in different contexts. Therapy seeks to provide clients with information about OCD, and practical strategies on managing symptoms, as well as any co-occurring disorders such as general anxiety and depression.
Morningside Recovery offers specific anxiety management techniques to help clients to manage their own symptoms in the real world after they complete treatment. Such techniques can include relaxation training, slow breathing techniques, meditation and hyperventilation control. These techniques are part of the cognitive behavioral treatment program and require regular practice. Therapy at Morningside also aims to change patterns of thinking, beliefs and behaviors that may trigger OCD symptoms. This therapy features exercises to train clients how to gain control over symptoms. For example, therapy can involve gradually exposing clients to situations that trigger their obsessions and, at the same time, helping them to reduce their compulsions and avoidance behaviors.
This process is gradual and usually begins with the less feared situations. The exposure tasks and prevention of compulsions are repeated daily and consistently until anxiety decreases. Over time, this allows the person to rebuild trust in their capacity to manage symptoms and function free of paralyzing fear.
Medication can be combined with psychotherapy, and along with better nutrition, clients say their fears become manageable. Clients report a profound sense of relief as they gain distance from the compulsions and obsessions that formerly took up many hours of their day. During treatment they begin to rehabilitate family and social relationships.
Morningside Recovery also has specialized education and employment resources available. For clients with OCD, attending college classes can be the path back to everyday activities.
The overall goal of treatment is to give clients suffering from OCD new freedom. As clients move forward, issues and problems that have been caused or exacerbated by the disorder fade away. Clients also gain strategies for preventing or managing future relapses. If a disorder flares up at a later date, Morningside clients now have the tools and cognitive ability to regain control.