How to stop OCD thoughts though Mindfulness Therapy
Contact me to find out more about Skype therapy sessions with me. During these Skype therapy sessions I will teach you how to apply mindfulness for healing all forms of anxiety disorders, depression and other emotional problems. This approach is very effective and you can expect to see significant reduction in the intensity of your anxiety or depression after the first few sessions with me. Online Mindfulness Psychotherapy is very effective for controlling anxiety and depression without using medications. It is far better to treat the psychological cause of your emotional suffering rather than just managing symptoms.
“After 8 years, two therapists, many self-help books…..my hypochondria and OCD was worse than ever. I figured I would just have to live like this and deal with it. I put on a good show in front of people and cried alone. Then, I stumbled upon Peter’s website. I figured this was my last attempt. Peter is kind, understanding, and patient. He helped guide me out of the dark and see the light. He is truly there to help. He never looks at his time during sessions. I would have to remind him that time is up. His rates are reasonable so everyone cam get proper therapy. He gave me practical tools to use to overcome my anxiety. He is always available via email for advice. He truly cares about the progress of his patients. Peter changed my life and gave me the chance to enjoy my life again. I am eternally grateful to him.”
To break free from the extremely painful impact of intrusive OCD thoughts we have to change 4 main things:
- We have to neutralize the emotional charge of the intrusive thought
- We have to break the habit by cultivating more conscious awareness of the intrusive thoughts
- We have to stop identifying with the intrusive thoughts – overcome reactive identification
- We need to reverse the habitual reactivity of avoidance and aversion (secondary reactivity) towards the intrusive thoughts
During Mindfulness Therapy sessions I will teach you how to address these 4 areas so that you can neutralize those OCD thoughts and re-establish balance and emotional wellbeing. Mindfulness therapy is very effective for OCD and other anxiety disorders and most people see significant improvements after 3-4 sessions once you start to apply the methods that I will teach you.
Welcome. My name is Peter Strong. I’m a professional psychotherapist based in Boulder, Colorado and I offer online therapy via Skype for the treatment of anxiety and depression and addictions and many other common psychological problems that respond well to mindfulness-based therapy. Mindfulness Therapy is my preferred choice because I find it to be vastly superior to conventional talk therapy and certainly a great improvement over medications, which really do nothing to change the underlying cause of your emotional suffering.
So anxiety disorders are the most common condition that I work with and this includes obsessive-compulsive disorder, and I’m often asked how to stop OCD thoughts, how to break free from those intrusive thoughts that cause so much emotional suffering and anxiety for a lot of people.
So working with intrusive thoughts. First of all we have to ask what is it that makes them intrusive? How does this work? Well there’s four major factors that I have identified that really cause a thought to become intrusive.
The first is the emotional charge of the thoughts. So with all OCD thoughts it’s not the content of the thought thought, it’s not the narrative that’s really that important. What is important is the emotional charge of that thought. When a thought has a very high emotional charge then it tends to stay in the mind longer and it tends to return more frequently than a thought with a low emotional charge. So the emotional charge is what gives the stickiness to intrusive thoughts and leads to obsessive behaviors based on those intrusive thoughts. So working with that emotional charge and learning how to neutralize it is essential, and much more important than trying to change the narrative, or your beliefs, or trying to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts, or any other cognitive manipulation like that, because it really won’t work if that emotional charge is not first neutralized.
So working with the emotional charge of the thoughts is very important. The second factor that causes those thoughts to be intrusive is really just plain habit. That is, the lack of conscious awareness. We tend to simply identify with these thoughts when they arrive and we get caught up in them and we start trying to fight them or resist them in some way. So this process of pure habit operates when there is very little consciousness. Like any habit it operates unconsciously.
So developing much more consciousness around our OCD thoughts is very important, and in fact we learn how to meditate on those thoughts rather than trying to make them go away, which is not practical or trying to resist them in some other way or distract ourselves from those thoughts.
Any kind of effort to try and remove thoughts by distraction just won’t work. We have to completely change our relationship to those thoughts. We have to, in fact, create more consciousness, not less.
The third factor that causes thoughts to become intrusive is really just the problem of what I call reactive identification, and that is where we really become consumed by that thought; we take on the identity of the thought. We take it to be who we are. We take it as the truth of things and we simply blindly fall into that thought.
The fourth factor that’s closely related to reactive identification is general reactivity to those unpleasant emotionally charged thoughts. As I mentioned earlier we tend to try to escape or avoid unpleasant experiences, including thoughts. We try to avoid them or we react with self-hatred, aversion or extreme dislike for those thoughts, which is understandable because they cause so much pain for us. But unfortunately reactivity simply feeds the problem.
So avoidance and aversion are big problems with OCD thoughts and we have to overcome both. And again, we do this by actually developing more mindful conscious awareness around those thoughts. We learn to meditate on the thoughts. Many people find this very strange indeed. But this is from my experience; this is what I find to be effective. When people start changing their relationship to the thoughts from one of avoidance and aversion to one of meditating on those thoughts, bringing consciousness to those thoughts and actually bringing a quality of compassion and friendliness or openness to those thoughts, then change starts to happen quite quickly.
So that’s part of the the Mindfulness Therapy that I teach for OCD but another part is really quite interesting and not familiar to most people. But again, something I have discovered over the years of working with anxiety disorders like OCD is working with the imagery of those intrusive thoughts.
So because they have a strong emotional challenge that emotional charge is produced by internal psychological imagery that gets activated by that thoughts, and, in fact, the best way to heal and neutralize that emotional charge, besides not identifying with it or reacting against it is to change the imagery of the emotion that’s associated with the thought.
So most intrusive thoughts are associated with some form of fear or some form of extreme trauma for example. That’s very common. So intrusive thoughts are very common in people suffering from PTSD or other form of trauma. Working with the imagery is a very good way indeed to neutralize these traumatic thoughts.
Classically some of the things I will teach you is how to identify that imagery and then how to change it. And very typically the first thing you might do is find a way to change the position of the imagery. Where you see it and the mind is a huge part of what causes the intensity of that intrusive thought.
So typically the thought is too big and too close and usually too high in our visual, psychological field, so changing its position is quite important.
And in general trying to turn the thought and its emotion into an object is also very, very important, which becomes very easy when you can start to create imagery, or find the imagery that describes that emotion. When you can turn it into an object then you can begin to develop a relationship that is conscious and friendly but non-reactive towards the object. That’s much easier to do than when we become identified with the thoughts.
So there are lots and lots of different ways of working with the imagery of OCD thoughts, but those are two: we might try to change his position and then see it as an object and then interact with that object in various ways to help it change its emotional charge. Make it smaller for example, a very a classic type of intervention we can explore together. If you make a thought smaller it will have a smaller emotional charge, it won’t be so intense, it won’t be so overpowering.
So if you would like to learn more about how to work with intrusive thoughts and OCD thoughts in general, please contact me. Send me an email. Tell me more about yourself and how I can help you and then we can schedule a Skype Therapy session to help you overcome your OCD thoughts using the very effective and well tested methods of Mindfulness Therapy that I teach and have developed over the last ten or twelve years now. So please contact me if you would like help overcoming your OCD. Thank you.