In OCD there is usually an obsessive thought around something bad happening to a loved one for example. This results in an increase in distressing emotions and in an attempt to reduce this, the person engages in compulsions. So, for example:
- Obsessive thought = something bad will happen to my mother/father
- Compulsive behaviour = Turn on and off a light switch 6 times
The compulsive behaviour gives you a temporary reassurance but in the long run, the belief is left unchallenged.
In CBT we would work on challenging this, devising experiments to reduce the compulsive behaviour and document the outcome. We would then do some cognitive work (Theory A/Theory B) and a combination of the behavioural change and cognitive work will mean that the individual no longer feels the need to engage in the compulsive behaviour.