If you are struggling with OCD, you may feel stuck in a never-ending cycle of obsessive thoughts and compulsions. The constant worry and intrusive thoughts can be overwhelming and lead to a great deal of anxiety, panic attacks and a feeling of dread. OCD sufferers often go to great lengths to avoid their triggers, which can take up your time and energy. This avoidance can also lead to social isolation and a general deterioration where you may feel like anxiety is ruining your life. While there is no cure, there are OCD treatments that can help lessen the symptoms and allow you to live a more normal life. One treatment option that is gaining popularity is hypnotherapy. Hypnosis is effective for OCD because it can help break the cycle of obsessive thoughts and compulsions.
Understanding obsessive compulsive disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that is characterised by intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviours (compulsions). An OCD sufferer can be significantly impacted by their quality of life as it can be very time-consuming and interfere with work, school and social activities. Obsessions and compulsions can also lead to social anxiety disorder leading to a change of routine, even self-imposed isolation which can very distressing.
Common OCD behaviour may include:
- Avoidance of places, people or things that trigger obsessions
- Excessive hand-washing, cleaning or showering
- Checking appliances, door locks or car brakes
- Arranging items in a certain order
- Needing to touch things a certain number of times
- Counting, tapping or repeating words or phrases
- Obsessive thoughts about germs and contamination
- Fear of losing control or making mistakes
The subconscious mind and OCD
The subconscious mind is responsible for our automatic behaviours and habits, it’s the part of our mind that controls things like our breathing and heart rate. It’s also where our emotions and memories are stored. The subconscious mind is incredibly powerful and can be very difficult to change using traditional psychological therapies such as CBT.
Unlike the conscious mind, the subconscious doesn’t think logically, it just reacts to things based on our past experiences and emotions. So, if we’ve had a bad experience with something in the past, our subconscious will make us feel anxious or scared when we come into contact with it again even if there’s no logical reason to feel that way.
This is why obsessive-compulsive disorder can be so difficult to treat using traditional methods because the subconscious is often the root cause of the problem. However, hypnosis can be used to bypass the conscious mind by using relaxation techniques and directly access the subconscious mind. This makes OCD hypnotherapy an incredibly effective tool for change in treating OCD.
What is hypnotherapy? What is hypnosis? Why are they interconnected?
Hypnotherapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses hypnosis to help people overcome problems and improve their mental health.
Hypnosis is a natural state of being, you’ve probably experienced a trance-like state many times in your life. An example of this relaxed state of being could be when you’re driving and suddenly realise you can’t remember the last few miles, or when you’re absorbed in a book and the outside world fades away.
The main difference between hypnotherapy and hypnosis is one is focused on helping you make specific changes in your life, whereas the other is more about relaxation and managing stress.
During hypnosis, a person is in a state of deep relaxation and they are more open to suggestions. This makes it a powerful tool for change and can be used to help people overcome mental health issues such as:
- Anxiety disorders (e.g. health, social or driving anxiety)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Self-esteem and confidence issues
Hypnosis is one of the fastest-growing alternative therapies and is becoming more mainstream as its effectiveness is increasingly recognised in OCD treatment and other mental health disorders. It can also be used to manage a range of physical health conditions. Unlike cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and other traditional talk therapies, which can take weeks or even months to see results, hypnosis usually produces changes much more quickly.
How does OCD hypnotherapy work?
Hypnosis works by accessing the subconscious mind, where our habits, behaviours and emotions are controlled. The therapist will guide you into a state of deep relaxation and then make suggestions that are designed to help you change the way you think and behave. These suggestions can be about anything that will help you overcome your OCD, such as changing the way you think about your obsessions or breaking the cycle of compulsions.
Hypnotherapy can be an effective tool in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder because it can help to:
- Break the cycle of OCD thoughts and behaviours
- Reduce anxiety and stress
- Build confidence and self-esteem
- Increase motivation to change
- Teach new, more helpful ways of thinking and behaving
Does hypnotherapy work for OCD?
There is growing evidence to suggest that hypnosis can be effective in treating OCD. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis found that hypnosis was an effective treatment for complimenting existing OCD treatment strategies.
How can hypnotherapy help treat OCD?
Hypnosis can help break the cycle of obsessive thoughts and compulsions by:
When you’re in a state of hypnosis, your anxiety levels naturally decrease. This can help you to feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed by your thoughts and compulsions.
Increasing your ability to resist compulsions
During hypnosis, you can learn techniques to help you better deal with urges. One technique is called ‘urge surfing’. This involves riding the wave of an urge, rather than trying to fight it. As you become better at resisting compulsions, they will start to lose their power over you.
Changing your thinking patterns
Hypnosis can help you to change the way you think about your OCD thoughts and behaviours. This can help to lessen their impact and make them less distressing.
Why is hypnotherapy different from CBT?
CBT focuses on changing the way you think about your OCD thoughts and behaviours. Hypnosis works by accessing the unconscious mind, where our habits, behaviours and emotions are controlled. The therapist will guide you into a state of deep relaxation and then make suggestions that are designed to help you change the way you think and behave. These suggestions can be about anything that will help you overcome your OCD, such as changing the way you think about your obsessions or breaking the cycle of repetition.
How long does treatment usually take?
The number of hypnotherapy sessions needed will depend on the severity of your OCD and how long you’ve been living with the condition. Most people see a significant improvement after just a few sessions.
What if I’m not sure if hypnotherapy is right for me?
If you’re considering using hypnotherapy to treat your OCD, it’s important to find a qualified therapist who has experience in OCD hypnotherapy.
At Steve Dell Hypnotherapy, I practice something called Solution-Focused Hypnotherapy. Unlike other therapies, it doesn’t involve digging into a person’s life to bring up unwanted thoughts that some people find distressing. Instead, we’ll discuss what’s going in the brain when we’re experiencing OCD and look at what life will feel like without anxiety and those inner conflicts that are holding you back.
I am a qualified and experienced hypnotherapist in London, and I am available to run hypnotherapy sessions online too. We can arrange an initial consultation over the phone or via Zoom if you prefer a face-to-face conversation.
If you have any questions or reservations, I am always happy to help just call 07966 464 005 or via this contact form