OCD Therapy in Los Angeles

My adult patients often describe OCD as all-consuming, taking away from important aspects of their life. My child patients call OCD “Mr. Bossy” or the “Worry Monster.” Parents of children affected by OCD are often confused by the way OCD has stripped their children from being themselves, going to school, or having fun.

What is OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, makes you have unwanted and repetitive thoughts, images, or urges called obsessions. The content of these obsessions varies, but often targets areas that you care the most about (e.g., your family, health, work, school, etc). People without OCD often have similar thoughts but can dismiss them. However, for people affected by OCD, these thoughts appear significant or get stuck, and cause distress or anxiety.

To relieve the distress and get rid of the obsessions, you may perform repetitive behaviors or rituals called compulsions. These compulsions can be physical (observable) or mental (unobservable by others). OCD may also lead you to avoid certain situations or triggers so that you do not need to perform a compulsion. Either way, the compulsions and avoidance only temporarily relieve distress, but increases OCD in the long run. So you get trapped in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions (and/or avoidance).

OCD:Obsessions and Compulsions Cycle

OCD can cause intense distress, consume a lot of your time, and disrupt important aspects of your life

Common Types of OCD

  • Contamination/Health

  • Perfectionism

  • Organization and symmetry

  • Religious

  • “Just right”

  • Safety

  • Sexual/Gender

  • Sensorimotor/body sensations

  • Harm/Aggression

  • Need to know or remember

While the above types of OCD can help normalize the experience of OCD and tailor treatment, each individual’s experience with OCD is unique and different. If you do not identify with the above types, but still have distressing obsessions or compulsions, you may still have OCD. A comprehensive assessment by an OCD expert is vital in guiding treatment.

OCD Treatment: Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

The gold standard treatment for OCD is called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). ERP is a type of CBT treatment that is grounded in science and decades of clinical research.

ERP is centered on breaking the OCD cycle by supporting individuals to gradually face the obsessions (exposure) without engaging in the compulsions (response prevention). We start with more approachable exposures and build one step at a time to reach your goals. Over time, anxiety decreases, you learn you do not need to perform compulsions, and become stronger than OCD.

While exposures may seem scary, and take courage, we can go at your pace. I balance ERP with compassion and empathy so that you feel supported to slowly overcome OCD and live a meaningful life according to your values. Other evidence-based treatments, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and mindfulness may be incorporated to enhance the effectiveness of ERP.

I also treat the following OCD Related Disorders:

Hoarding Disorder

Individuals diagnosed with hoarding disorder have difficulty getting rid of possessions that are no longer useful. They may collect random items, such as rocks, paper wrappers, and a variety of things that may seem worthless, but they are emotionally attached to. These items may accumulate until their home is so cluttered that it is no longer liveable, or experience significant distress when others try to clean their room or get rid of items.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

BDD is characterized by a fixation with physical flaws that may be slight or not even noticeable by others, but cause extreme distress. Individuals with BDD often work hard and spend a lot of time hiding their perceived flaws. They often perform repetitive behaviors (checking mirrors, applying and reapplying makeup, comparing themselves with others, excessively grooming, repeatedly asking others if they look ok) or avoidance behaviors (avoiding mirrors, social situations, school, or work).