Many of my clients ask what ERP stands for? Exposure Response Prevention sounds so formal and technical. Simply put, it is a process that creates ORDER out of mental CHAOS. It works by systematically facing your obsessions while abstaining from your compulsions.
ERP + Mindfulness = Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Many say, “that’s crazy, I am not doing that,” or better yet, “I can’t do it. I am incapable of stopping my compulsions”.
At this point I normally say.....that some of my most severe Obsessive Compulsive sufferers were capable of accomplishing the process and they were able to stop seeing me because of their significant success.
This technique starts with finding where we need to begin.
Sometimes one obsession is followed by countless compulsions. Starting small with one less intense compulsion and then working your way up to more intense compulsions. This is most effective. Some individuals have several obsessions so starting with an easier obsession can help build confidence and trust in this therapeutic process. This process is started by you and your therapist when you create an ERP hierarchy, which is a list of obsessions, compulsions, and level of distress if you imagine abstaining from these compulsive behaviors.
Mindfulness is another approach to manage the incessant obsessions in your head. Some individuals reach great improvement just from this skill alone. I always start with mindfulness of the present moment to distract away form the obsessions and compulsions. Later mindfulness of your OCD can be used as an exposure.
Is Your Therapist Skilled in treating OCD?
Make sure your therapist is skilled in treating OCD as reassurance-seeking from your therapist can keep you stuck in your compulsions. In the beginning there will be some exchange of facts that may feel like reassurance-seeking, but this is part of the therapeutic process. Anxiety and OCD can be treated differently, but some people have both issues. Having a therapist knowledgeable in treating both is essential to your success through these debilitating disorders. Are you ready to face your inner dragon, then ERP is for you!