Millions of people are affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD—not just those who have the condition, but their loved ones. My guest this week is psychologist Dr. Belinda Seiger, who specializes in evidence-based treatment of OCD. We focused on how OCD affects families, the best way to treat OCD, and how effective treatment also improves a person’s closest relationships.
It was a fruitful discussion as we explored many OCD-related topics including:
- The definition of OCD
- Why it’s such a devastating condition
- The many types of OCD
- The need for certainty
- Approaches that don’t help, like reassurance
- The ironic approach that effectively treats OCD
- Taking small steps toward recovery
- Common reactions to a family member’s OCD
- The importance of education for family members
- Disgust OCD
- Seeking reassurance as an OCD hallmark
- Frequent frustration in response to OCD
- The relief families experience following successful treatment
- Anxiety vs. OCD
- Health anxiety
- The difficulty in understanding another person’s OCD
- Fear of harm and Malevolence OCD
- OCD as a “bully in the brain”
- The illogic of OCD
- Involving family members directly in treatment
- What to do if a family member isn’t ready to start treatment
- How to respond when a family member isn’t following the treatment guidelines
- The need for a “why” to get over OCD
- The vulnerability in others knowing about a person’s OCD
- The key role of communication
- Depression as a result of OCD
- Dealing with one’s own anxiety about a loved one’s OCD
- Support groups
- Online support for families
- The problem with family accommodation in OCD
- OCD-related school refusal
- Seeing OCD as separate from oneself
- The importance of seeking treatment from an OCD specialist
Belinda referenced the International OCD Foundation, which I often refer people to for information about the condition and to find a therapist. Here’s their website: IOCDF.
Belinda Seiger has been a licensed therapist for over 20 years working with teens, emergent young adults, and families. She completed her master’s degree at Columbia University and her PhD at NYU, and has specialized training in working with gifted, twice exceptional (2E) populations, as well as ADHD, substance overuse and addictions, and individuals in highly competitive academic and professional environments.
Belinda also completed advanced training in OCD treatment at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, at the same center where I worked for 4 years (the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety) as well as at the Child & Adolescent OCD, Tic, Trich, and Anxiety Group (COTTAGe), a speciality clinic for children. Her clinical practice is located in Princeton, NJ, where she provides psychotherapy for children, adolescents, and adults with a wide range of anxiety and OCD concerns, and with teens making the transition to college and beyond. She also provides training to assist parents and caregivers in managing their child’s anxiety and OCD at home.
For individuals who are seeking online OCD-related information and support, check out the OCD Talk blog, written by author and advocate Janet Singer. Janet wrote a memoir that detailed her son’s recovery from severe OCD, and I contributed to the book with general information about OCD: Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery.
For families who are dealing with OCD, I often recommend Jon Hershfield’s excellent book, When a Family Member Has OCD.
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