Sometimes in my office people are curious about me. Some ask what do I struggle with? There is an assumption that therapists do not struggle because of what they know. Knowing and doing are two different types of learning. I had an anxiety disorder for most of my life. I suffered from depression and anxiety when I was a child and young adult.
K.D. Holmes Blog
Exposure Response Prevention
Have you ever had a thought that just keeps popping up in your head? These kinds of thoughts can be images, phrases, even feelings that intrude upon an otherwise perfect moment. These intrusions are not hidden desires or even thoughts the sufferer wants to think. They just pop on in your head and terrify the suffer. In Obsessive Compulsive Disorder they get stuck, and play on repeat in your mind. Because once isn't terrifying enough, let's play that thought again and again, and compulsively check if it is still there.
I began working with individuals who had OCD about 10 to 12 years ago... I have gotten lost in time and forgotten how long it has been exactly. I came upon the diagnosis unknowingly when I could not diagnose someone. I was stumped and anything that baffles me sparks my curiosity.
I am told by my clients I am soft, easy to talk to, and silly. But objectively it's hard to gage when you work alone in a room with one other person. Therapists are trained to be soft, warm, and do no harm. When we only do that, we create an environment for people to stay stuck, avoid, and ultimately not improve.
Many of the individuals I work with (myself included) are plagued by an obsessive brain. Obsessive brains are repetitive, stuck, living in a rabbit hole of thinking that leads to nowhere but feels real to the sufferer. These individuals are often diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which is composed of obsessions followed by compulsions.
Many of my clients would never guess that I have social anxiety. If you watch my videos, it would seem highly unlikely that I become overwhelmed when I am around a group of people I don't know. There is a big misnomer that if we know better we do better...but knowing is not learning. The two are completely different concepts. You can read a book about brain surgery, but doing it is a learning process based on lots of actions.
I have been called "nervous" since I was a child. I would venture to say that large doses of caffeine and chocolate probably did not help my "nervousness". As a small child, I would drink a coke and eat a bag of Hershey's chocolates and literally run in circles at family functions. We still laugh at these memories.
Recently I relearned about inhibitory learning. I love knowledge that challenges me to look at things in an alternative way. It is probably due to my Anthropology brain/degree. I’d compare it to learning another perspective of viewing a problem.
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 is helpful when combined with lots of other skills.