OCD can be described as a powerful trance state. it is powered from a very primitive part of our brains. We feel we HAVE to perform a ritual, such as handwashing or cleaning or switching lights on and off in order to relieve overwhelming fear. These rituals can start to take over some peoples’ lives so such as extent that it can take a long time for them to be able to leave their home, and in extreme cases, feel unable to leave their home at all. The rituals can occupy much of their waking life – life becomes extremely narrow and obviously extremely miserable.
What can help?
While I see very few very serious cases of OCD as a counsellor, I do find that when clients are going through a very stressful period of their lives, intrusive thoughts and sometimes compulsive behaviours can creep in. Some of the more common ones they have told me about are becoming quite obsessed with cleaning and tidying the house and having to check and re-check whether appliances are switched off or doors locked. Often looking at the root cause of the stress (whether it’s old trauma or current events or relationships) and working on bringing down overall stress levels, can mean that the obsessions and compulsions simply go away on their own.
The Rewind technique
In many cases what can also be very effective is the Rewind Technique, a powerful visualisation – for more information click here. This includes the following parts:
- An initial deep relaxation of mind and body, the person imagining they are somewhere safe, somewhere they really love to be – possibly in nature.
- Starting to separate the person’s core identity from the thoughts/behaviours (known as stepping into your observing self), separating out an OCD thought from a normal thought – putting a distance from themselves and the thoughts.
- Looking at situations when is OCD is in charge – and situations when YOUR brain is functioning normally
- Starting to switch the current rituals to new harmless ones – for example switching hand washing or cleaning to aerobic activity, putting on favourite music, calling a friend
- Seeing oneself on a small TV screen experiencing the frightening or obsessive thought but NOT carrying out the rituals – instead seeing oneself having the thought but instead gong out for a walk or getting stuck into a favourite hobby with NO ADVERSE CONSEQUENCES – thus creating a brand new template in those primitive brain circuits. Eventually you will be sending feedback to the primitive part of your brain – look those thoughts aren’t real! After enough feedback, thoughts will lessen and disappear
- Rehearsing in one’s imagination what life will look like without the thoughts and behaviours – getting up in the morning and really feeling the freedom, “my life is now totally my own, I am free of the bully, I can plan my day in exactly the way I want to.”
Need some advice and support?
If you are struggling with any of the issues raised in this article, or indeed any other emotional issues or life challenges and would like to talk things over in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.
Book a counselling session today!