EMDR for OCD

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a debilitating condition which leads the sufferer to experience recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges and images (obsessions), which are unwanted and often highly distressing.

These obsessions frequently follow specific themes such as the fear that harm will happen, if the person does not do something to neutralise them.

As a result the person with OCD will undertake compulsions, in an attempt to deal with their obsessions.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviours (such as hand washing, ordering or checking) or mental acts (such as praying, counting, repeating words silently), which the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession. These usually have to be performed according to rigid rules and can have a significantly negative impact on the person's time, social, occupational and general well-being.

The compulsive behaviours or rituals serve to temporarily reduce the anxiety the person feels, but the obsession does not go away and can often gain in strength, if untreated.

Therapy to help people with OCD traditionally developed using a behavioural approach. This involved exposure to the obsessive fear and response prevention, which aims to stop the rituals. In this approach the person learns to gradually reduce the need to do rituals, with the aim of reducing their power.

In more recent years cognitive therapy approaches have also been developed to help people address the underlying thought and belief processes that occur in OCD.

Whilst cognitive and behavioural approaches have been very successful in helping many people with OCD, some people do not respond to these well established, traditional treatments.

EMDR is an approach originally used to treat trauma memories. It stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy. Since it's beginnings in the mid - 1990's, EMDR has begun to develop a wider application.

In 2012, John Marr developed a new protocol to treat OCD, using EMDR. He did so as he found himself faced with some clients who's lives were devastated by severe OCD, who had not responded to traditional treatments.

Marr has gone on to produce case study research, showing successful outcomes for people with intractable OCD.

Whilst it is early days in the research - outcomes process, this new work, shows further promise to help people, which was otherwise not available.

If you are interested in receiving therapy to help with OCD, please visit the 'contact us' section of our website.