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Richard J L Newman DHP  07792584968 OCD Towards Trust  And Freedom!

Working To Overcome  OCD

In short, OCD is an illness in which people experience obsessions and then act on them by performing compulsions. Obsessions occur when the brain generates repetitive, powerful thoughts that are intrusive and produce anxiety.

It is a medical brain disorder which does take an extended period of therapy to treat successfully (12 weeks or more is not unusual).

In essence, OCD sufferers cannot "move on," forget about or control their own thoughts. Compulsive behaviours are often enacted to nullify these obsessive thoughts.

If having read this article, you wish to know more I recommend you visit for a very good explanation of the current thinking on the subject.

While to successfully treat OCD with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy we need not be concerned with the actual biochemical reactions in the brain which are responsible  It is important for the OCD sufferer to recognise the obsessive thoughts they experience for what they are, which is biochemical induced and reinforced signals that are not reflective of reality or their personality.   

How common is OCD?

Once considered a rare condition, experts now believe that Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder was frequently misdiagnosed in the past, partly through lack of knowledge amongst the health profession, but also partly because of a sufferer’s reluctance to talk about their symptoms through fear of embarrassment and shame. Because of this reported numbers did not reflect the true magnitude of the cases. Recent research and understanding of the illness offers a much clearer picture of the problem. Research shows that in the UK about 1.2% of the population will have OCD. Based on recent population figures that is approximately 760,000

Why does OCD start?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder may be caused by various factors both psychological and Biological. Recent research seems to support that it is becoming increasingly clear that OCD has strong biological and genetic influences.

When does OCD start?

OCD can start at any time from preschool to adulthood. Although OCD does occur at earlier ages, there are generally two age ranges when OCD first appears:

Between ages 8 and 12

Between the late teens and early adulthood

What is OCD?

OCD is a recognized medical brain disorder that causes problems in information processing. It is not the persons fault or the result of a "weak" or unstable personality.

It is a treatable condition; however it may be difficult to treat successfully in the short term particularly if someone has been suffering from OCD for many years.  Working with OCD needs a great deal of patience and persistence on the part of the client and the therapist as it is a step by step process.

Why does Hypnotherapy work for OCD?

The intervention of Hypnotherapy can be very helpful and powerful therapeutic tool engaging, as they do, with the subconscious non judgemental part of the mind.

These interventions can be very powerful and positive and help to relax and calm the sufferer of OCD.

They can be used to pinpoint a cause and to work towards a release from the continuous cycle of obsessive behaviour or thinking OCD sufferers are stuck in.  Hypnosis works at a subconscious level accessing areas of the brain where unconscious and instinctive thoughts and behaviours are rooted.  The subconscious mind is able to respond in ways that the conscious mind with all of its judgemental values, fears and beliefs cannot.

Using hypnosis the client can be guided to release past experiences that may have been the trigger to the problem and  hypnotic suggestion can be used to negotiate with the subconscious and set up a new pattern of thinking and behaviour to help OCD sufferers return to enjoying life normally again.

How do we treat OCD here?

During your free initial consultation we will make a general assessment of your stress related symptoms and their effects, OCD triggers and possible causes. We will look at sleep patterns as well as any other symptoms of anxiety.

We will take an enlightening tour of the brain and review the causes for stress, anxiety and OCD. We will look at the ways we can help you with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.

Our therapy works in the following ways.

1. Hypnotherapy to aid relaxation and sleep normalisation and efficacy to reduce general stress and anxiety levels.

2. Hypnotherapy to de-activate original stress triggers that catalysed original OCD attack.

3. Hypnotherapy to increase confidence and counter the negative undermining experiences associated with OCD.

4. Hypnotherapy to “re-frame” and reinforce new positive behavioural responses to obsessive thoughts and alternative activities to redirect attention away from following compulsive behaviours.

5. Solution Focused Therapy to develop the necessary steps towards control of compulsive reactions and build towards a chosen future free of OCD.

6. Mindfulness techniques to develop the client’s ability to redirect their mind away from obsessive thought patterns.

Firstly we will examine the original trigger for the behaviour and the circumstances around the client at the time. OCD symptoms first show themselves when the sufferer is in a highly stressed state and their limbic system is highly energised. Often the cause of this stress has no direct connection with the apparent focus of the OCD behaviour! In this way OCD, like a phobia may have originally been catalysed  by a stressor of which the client is unaware and has no direct or logical connection with their ongoing triggering experience. Unmasking this original stressor can, on occasions, give an avenue for resolving the problem in a direct and permanent way.

The Basis of our OCD Therapy

The causes of OCD are firmly centred in the primitive part of the brain or limbic system and no amount of intellectual argument is going to change the activity of this brain part.

The longer the OCD symptoms have been allowed to persist, the more “hard-wired” they become within the brain.

The only way of immediately limiting the OCD symptoms is to de-energise the limbic system by reducing general stress levels and developing clear unambiguous alternative behaviours to refocus the attention elsewhere and replace compulsive reactions which reinforce the obsessions of OCD.  

Treatment can include anti-anxiety medication as well as behavioural therapy such as SFH. Changes in behaviour, when repeated, cause changes in the chemistry and wiring of the brain. This is how OCD develops and also how it can ultimately be cured.

The key to resolving OCD is an unambiguous, unchanging and unremitting alternative behavioural response which, in the end, replaces the compulsive behaviour pattern that reinforce the OCD.

The way we work,

Absolutely key to gaining control of your OCD is not indulging in the associated compulsive behaviour but refocusing on other activity, to set up a clearly defined and robust system of handling your OCD episodes

However this may, in the short term, likely increase your anxiety, which is why the anxiety reducing hypnotherapy is so important. 


Firstly; recognising and labelling obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours as such. Being clear when a thought is obsessive and an action is compulsive.

Secondly; accepting that these obsessive thoughts and compulsive urges to action are just a symptom of a biochemical imbalance in the brain and that they are the limbic brain mimicking intellectual analysis and have no import, however strong their urgency.

Thirdly; Refocusing your attention on some other activity.

Fourthly; Realising that OCD thoughts are not to be taken at face value. The thoughts are not significant in themselves, they are creations of the limbic system and are not based on real facts.


Our therapy in conjunction with other medical therapies.

In many cases SSRI’s and other medications may be required to enhance and control the workings of serotonin and dopamine channels where changes in the activation and re-uptake of these neurotransmitters play a part in OCD. Clients participating in our OCD therapy are therefore often on such prescribed medication from their GP or psychiatrist. This does not in any way negatively affect the efficacy of either therapy.

Further Insights into OCD

The following points about OCD should help you understand it better and direct your efforts in a successful way.

There is no easy answer.

It  will take effort and require courage as you develop your ability to not follow through with your compulsive behaviour.

The therapy itself may seem to make your life harder in the short term as you confront your fears and doubts, but in the long term you will gain control over the obsessions and compulsions and they will become less demanding, thus making your life much easier and liberating you to enjoy life once more.

Two of OCDs main features are doubt and guilt. 

These are considered hallmarks of the OCD. In the 19th century, OCD was known as the "doubting disease."   Doubt and guilt are cornerstones of OCD.


OCD can make a sufferer doubt even the most basic things about themselves, others, or the world they live in.  It is possible for OCD clients to doubt their sexuality, their sanity, their perceptions, whether or not they are responsible for the safety of total strangers, the likelihood that that they will become murderers, etc. 


Doubt is one of OCDs more maddening qualities.  It can override even the keenest intelligence.  It is a doubt that cannot be extinguished.  It is doubt raised to the MAX. It is what causes sufferers to check things hundreds of times, or to ask endless questions of themselves or others.  Even when an answer is found, it may only stick for several minutes, only to slip away as if it was never there. OCD sufferers do not accept even 1% of doubt - absolute certainty is required and this is because of a biochemical dysfunction in the brain. Only when sufferers recognise the futility of trying to resolve this doubt, can they begin to make progress.


Doubt is actually the natural stepping stone towards Trust. We can never experience Trust without first experiencing Doubt. For most people this is a natural progression, but sufferers of OCD are trapped in the doubting phase. They trust nothing, they doubt everything. This questioning and re-questioning is an activity of the primitive brain gone awry.

Doubting and rechecking is a mental behaviour designed to ensure that the proper steps have been taken to ensure one’s safety.

However in OCD the signal within the brain, confirming that these proper steps have been taken and that all is well, is either not sent or not received. As a result the compulsion to check is reiterated again and again and reinforced with more chemically induced urgency. Each time the signal is reiterated it is further amplified with neurotransmitters designed to galvanise the individual into action. Stress levels are increased and the primitive mind pumps out chemicals which suppress the workings of the intellectual aspects of mind as the OCD sufferer is swept into full flight-fight panic mode. The inability of the OCD sufferer to stop this reiterating and reinforcing message of doubt actually undermines their sense of competence in dealing with the apparent threat and this further reduces self confidence and increases general stress levels, increasing their ongoing vulnerability to obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours originating in the primitive limbic brain. In this way the condition is self perpetuating and self reinforcing.

The guilt is another excruciating part of the disorder. It is easy for people with OCD feel guilty about most anything.  They often feel responsible for things that no one would ever take upon themselves. Again this reflects a missed compensation signal which in non-OCD sufferers instructs the brain that the situation has been successfully attended to and requires no further action, so causing the primitive reinforcing call to action to be suppressed. In OCD sufferers no such signal is sent or received meaning they continue to question their responsibility for things over which they have absolutely no control.


Suppression is Futile (to obsessive thinking)

 You may successfully resist performing a compulsive action, but you cannot refuse to think an obsessive thought, however you can learn to stand back as the observer of that thought, dissociate from the thought and ultimately redirect your mind towards other stimuli.


Obsessions are bio chemically generated mental events occurring in the instinctive primitive part of the brain that seem to resemble ones own real intellectual thoughts, but aren’t.  They originate within the instinctive emotional limbic system, not the cortex and so are imitation thoughts, mimicking intellectual analysis, and an activity which I term “worrying”. This Worrying is as counterfeit to intellectual thought as wax fruit is to real fruit.  As biochemical events, they cannot simply be shut off at will.  You might better see them as feelings masquerading as thoughts so if you try to control them or contradict them using intellectual thoughts you are bound to fail.


Studies in thought suppression have shown that the more you try to not think about something, the more you will end up thinking about it paradoxically. … For example if I suggest that you “Try not to think about a pink elephant!”. – You see?..... The real trick to dealing with obsessions is, "If you want to worry about it less, intellectualise about it more." 

Intrinsic to our approach is that we do not fight the primitive brain, even when it is behaving in a way we find disagreeable or painful.  Direct confrontation has the detrimental effect of energising the primitive brain further and antagonising it into increasing its urgency. It believes it is keeping you safe, that is its raison d'etre. It will eventually chemically inhibit the intellectual mind if it feels threatened in this way! Instead we must develop a positive dialogue and clear line of control. This is not entirely dissimilar to the way you would train a dog or a child to be obedient and respond appropriately in normal situations.  Patience, clarity of intent , unambiguous messages, unfailing repetition of reinforcement are all key attributes in this activity.

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