What to Expect When You Attend Counselling for OCD


If you have OCD, you may be thinking of seeing a counsellor. It's not unusual to be unsure of what exactly to expect from counselling, so here's an overview.

Counselling Defined

A trained counsellor will work with you on a one-to-one basis to help you gain a deeper insight into your specific obsessive compulsive behaviours. You can talk about anything you like during your sessions and your counsellor will listen without judgement.

Everything you say in a counselling session is confidential, but your counsellor is required to break their pledge of confidentiality to you if you threaten to harm yourself or others. In this situation your counsellor may ask you for permission to contact your GP, but they can also proceed without your permission.

You can choose to see a counsellor who practices person-centred counselling or someone who uses the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) method. Person-centred counselling is non-directive, so it's ideal if you want a listening ear and lots of space to talk and explore your feelings.

CBT is more focussed on behavioural changes, and your counsellor will work with you in a methodical way to break negative cycles attached to your OCD by setting goals.

Choosing a Counsellor

Ensure your chosen counsellor is qualified, experienced at supporting clients with OCD and feels like a good fit for your personality. You'll need to feel comfortable with this person and each counsellor has their own style. Have a chat with them before booking a session and ask them a few basic questions to get a feel for how they work. Check their accreditation, their fees and working hours.

Once you start your sessions, it's alright to let your counsellor know if you feel you'd like to try seeing someone else. Your counsellor should understand how important it is for you to be comfortable.

The Initial Appointment

You'll probably feel a little tense and uneasy when attending your first session, but you may be pleased to learn that the first session will be more of an introductory appointment. You may be asked to fill in some paperwork with some brief personal information, a timeline of your OCD and how OCD manifests itself in your life.

The counsellor will be keen to understand what your triggers and rituals are and how you currently respond to times of anxiety. This session will allow you and your counsellor to get to know each other a bit better, give you some time to ask about the process, and your counsellor may outline how they see subsequent sessions progressing.

Ongoing Appointments

Each time you attend a counselling session, your counsellor will ask you how things have been progressing since your last session and if anything has happened that you'd like to talk about. They will make suggestions, provide a supportive environment and give feedback, and they may also give you some homework to do between sessions.

For example, your counsellor may ask you to touch certain things for a set number of seconds and record how it makes you feel. Alternatively, they may ask you to refrain from washing your hands after a certain trigger, such as using a door handle, and record your anxiety over not washing on a scale of 1-10. They will ask you to note what number you were at on the scale after an hour and where on the scale you had to reach to feel comfortable.

Once you feel more in control of your OCD, your counsellor may suggest you start reducing the frequency of your sessions as you prepare to end your counselling journey.

Booking your first counselling session can feel like a big step, but it's a positive one. You should come out of counselling in a healthier place and have some new tools to help you cope with the ups and downs of life. For more information, contact services such as Counselling Psychotherapy Clinical & Corporate Psychology & Coaching (CPCCPC).


25 February 2015

Coaching  Happiness: How Counselling Can Help You

My name is Janet Tuck. I am so lucky to be established in my dream job as a life coach. My job mostly involves listening to people and helping them find their own solutions. Marriage troubles, career stagnation, personal identity issues and grief are all problems which can benefit from professional counselling. Unfortunately, many people just won’t admit that they need the help. As a life coach, it isn’t my job to give direct advice. After completing a course with me, some clients decide to undertake further counselling with a specialist. Months later, they return to see me with a whole different attitude to life. I started this journal to let people know about the importance of seeking help, the types of counselling available and the incredible long-term benefits. May you find your true path in life and be happy in all that you do.