Choosing ERP Therapy

ponderingI’ll be taking a break from blogging for a couple of weeks to spend some quality time with family and friends. I’d like to wish all of my readers a happy and healthy holiday season and wish you all the best in 2014.

During my break, I will repost some of my older, more popular entries. Below is a post I wrote back in September, 2011:

Exposure Response Prevention Therapy, as I have mentioned before, is the treatment of choice for OCD.  Though it is intensely anxiety provoking and difficult to do, the results are often dramatic. I have always credited this therapy for saving my son Dan’s life.

In a thought-provoking post entitled “No one should do exposure and response prevention!” , Dr. Jonathan Grayson argues that nobody should engage in ERP therapy just because the experts say it is the right thing to do. Rather, for it to work, the OCD sufferer needs to really believe that this therapy is the best way to proceed. In short, the desire to participate in ERP therapy needs to come from within.

Though this advice can apply to many therapies for many disorders, it can get complicated with OCD (so what else is new?). Even though they know it is illogical and their sense of security is false, some OCD sufferers find it too hard to give up the “safety” of their rituals.  It is a risk they are either unwilling or unable to take. In addition, those with OCD are often steered by what they perceive is right and therefore may agree to engage in ERP therapy because it is the “right thing to do,” and not because they truly believe it will help them.

When Dan spent nine weeks at an intensive residential treatment program for OCD, he learned a lot about how OCD operates, and quickly came to the realization that ERP therapy was his ticket to freedom. In my experience, those with OCD understand better than anyone what their disorder entails. They know they act irrationally, but they are rational people. Just read any OCD sufferer’s blog, and you are bound to see a phrase like, “I know this sounds crazy but….”

It is far from easy to muster the courage to fight OCD, but it is possible. Empowered with knowledge, strength and desire, those with OCD can take the necessary responsibility for their recovery. And while the battle may be long and torturous, the choice to keep fighting is what really matters.

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12 Responses to Choosing ERP Therapy

  1. Tracy says:

    I enjoy your blogs 🙂 thank you.

  2. Tom Cordy says:

    Thanks for all your efforts Janet. We all really appreciate it. All the best to you and your family for 2014. Tom

  3. A good and informative post, Janet. Thank you for all you do to advocate for those with OCD and their families. Happy New Year!

  4. Daniel Walks says:

    E.R.P. is to actively seek, fight for change, as cognitive understanding alone is not enough.

    Happy new year!

  5. 71 & Sunny says:

    When I was in treatment, it became very obvious to me that I had to want this for myself. It’s too hard to do it otherwise. It also means, that even though I want my friends with OCD to recover, I can’t do it for them. Treatment is a hard and painful road, but it is definitely worth it.

    • Oh how true, Sunny. That is such a difficult and frustrating thing for loved ones of those who are resisting treatment. We can support them as much as possible, but the decision to get well, and all the hard work that it entails, has to come from them.

  6. I’ve only just discovered your blog and the wonderful work you do. May I ask whether or not you’ve read Dr Jeffrey Schwartz’s Brain Block or his other book You are Not your Brain. I ask because in my psychotherapy practice I have found ERP to be of limited efficacy – and yes, as one of your commentators has suggested, that may be to do with the strength of a person’s desire to use ERP and to see it as their path out of their rituals. Dr Schwartz’s four step approach is nothing short of amazing and it works in all levels and types of OCD I have encountered. It is subtle and it is slow and there is no pressure to abandon immediately the rituals that soothe the person with OCD. That just happens.

    • Thanks for commenting, Dr. Kavanagh. I have not read Brain Lock but am familiar with the four steps and have heard from some readers who have found it to be helpful. I’m glad you have had success with it. I don’t know of any follow-up studies (such as how long do improvements last?) in relation to Dr. Schwartz’s therapy. I’m not a therapist, but in most of the cases I’ve heard, Dr. Schwartz’s books were used as a supplement to ERP, which is still the front line treatment for OCD. I appreciate your contribution and hope to hear from you again.

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