Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that affects people
of all ages and walks of life and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of
obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or
urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are behaviors an
individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease his or her
distress. There are different subtypes of OCD like contamination obsessions, violent
obsessions, sexual obsessions, and symmetry obsessions. Scientific researchers in the
last few years have discovered effective treatments for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
(OCD) that have dramatically reduced symptoms in individuals suffering from OCD.
Evidence-based treatment using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and
Exposure/Response Prevention is scientifically proven to be the most effective
treatment for OCD in the world today.

Specific Phobia

Specific Phobia is an anxiety disorder involving intense, persistent and irrational fear of an
object or situation. People, suffering from a significant phobia, experience extreme distress (and
even panic attacks at times) in the presence of or in anticipation of the feared object or situation.
This feared object or situation is either avoided or endured with intense distress. These phobias
normally cause numerous disruptions in an individual’s daily routine in both their private and
professional life. There are many different types of specific phobias like insects, animals, flying,
heights, storms, needles, seeing blood, and situational phobias (e.g. closed spaces, elevator).
Exposure/Response Prevention therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy are the most effective
treatments. Exposure/Response Prevention therapy focuses on changing your responses to the
object or situation that you fear. Gradual, repeated exposure to the source of your specific
phobia and the related thoughts, feelings and sensations may help you learn to manage your
anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) involves exposure combined with other techniques
to learn ways to view and cope with the feared object or situation differently. You learn
alternative beliefs about your fears and bodily sensations and the impact they’ve had on your
life.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder is a mental health condition where regular social situations may cause
people to feel excessive anxiety and unreasonable fear. Individuals with this disorder get
worried about being embarrassed or evaluated negatively in performance-related situations.
These people’s worries include fear of crowds, public speaking, business meetings, and talking
to strangers. People with social anxiety disorder experience a variety of different physical
symptoms (e.g. high pulse rate, fast heartbeat, uneasiness, sweating, etc). Because they are
fearful of being judged by others or being laughed at these individuals will try their best to avoid
being the center of attention. They may worry about saying or doing something that might cause
others to judge them negatively. For some people with this condition, anxiety and fear can get
so excessive that many will avoid all social situations completely. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
is the most effective type of psychotherapy for anxiety and is shown to be equally effective with
Social Anxiety Disorder. In exposure-based, cognitive-behavioral therapy, you gradually work up
to facing the situations you fear most while using newly acquired coping skills.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the persistent worry and anxiety about routine activities and
ordinary things that are involved in day-to-day activities. This condition is called Generalized
Anxiety Disorder because it is not associated with any specific fear, situation or object; the
anxiety and restlessness may change in intensity for different things and situations. Individuals
with this disorder often experience physical symptoms like muscle tension, headaches,
irritability, fatigue, sleep problems, stomach discomfort, and difficulty concentrating. They tend to
think negatively about things at home, work, school and seem to worry out of proportion about
something bad always potentially occurring. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is the most effective
form of psychotherapy for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy focuses
on teaching you specific skills to directly manage your worries and help you gradually return to
the activities you’ve avoided because of anxiety. Through this process, your symptoms improve
as you build on your initial success.

Vomiting Phobia

Vomiting Phobia, also known as Emetophobia, is a type of specific phobia that involves
excessive fear of vomiting, seeing others vomiting, or feeling sick randomly. A person with
this disorder tends to avoid situations and activities that may enhance the chance of
vomiting. This may lead to the individual changing their personal behaviors, like avoiding
foods associated with vomiting, eating very little, avoiding crowded public settings, staying
away from public bathrooms, etc. As with other forms of OCD, once identified as a case of
emetophobia, Exposure/Response Prevention (ERP), as well as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy,
can be applied as the core treatment. In emetophobia treatment, ERP is best applied to three
different areas of the emetophobic symptoms: The first area is the physiological symptoms
associated with nausea and vomiting itself, which trigger anxiety. A second area is the
environmental triggers of emetophobic anxiety. A final area of treatment involves exposure to
the act of vomiting itself. I do not require or recommend having the emetophobic vomit because
I do not think it necessary for recovery. Instead, therapy involves having the emetophobic
engage in simulated vomiting.

Panic Attack Disorder

Panic Disorder is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by recurrent, unanticipated anxiety
attacks in individuals. Although panic disorder can sometimes begin in childhood, the onset of
this condition is usually found to occur between late adolescence and the mid-30s. The sudden
and unexpected anxiety attacks can result in a variety of physical symptoms including heavy
breathing, racing heartbeat, feeling sick, sweating, shaking/shivering, chest pain, feelings of
choking, and getting dizzy. People who have experienced panic attacks in the past, individuals
will often suffer from excessive fear of having another panic attack. They also seem to worry
about the consequences of their panic attack and the associated implications, including serious
physical symptoms. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy can help you learn, through your own
experience, that panic symptoms are not dangerous. Your therapist will help you gradually
re-create the symptoms of a panic attack in a safe, repetitive manner. Once the physical
sensations of panic no longer feel threatening, the attacks begin to resolve. Successful
treatment can also help you overcome fears of situations that you’ve avoided because of panic
attacks.

HEALTH ANXIETY

Health Anxiety Treatment involves the use of psychotherapy, particularly Cognitive-Behavioral
Therapy, to target the thoughts and behaviors of people with health anxiety. Health anxiety (also
called illness anxiety or hypochondria) is the obsessive worrying about having serious medical
condition or illness, without having had any diagnosis from a doctor. This condition is
characterized by the tendency to exaggerate minor symptoms or illnesses. They fear that
different body functions are not working properly or there are major issues with specific body
parts or organs. With these recurring thoughts, these individuals employ excessive diagnosis,
repeatedly visit their doctor, and regularly self-check their vital signs (pulse, blood pressure or
temperature). This fear, of having a serious illness, can also lead to other types of behavior by
some people who avoid seeing their doctor or getting their tests done due to fear of being
diagnosed with some medical condition. Because physical sensations can be related to
emotional distress and health anxiety, psychotherapy — particularly Cognitive-Behavioral
Therapy (CBT) — can be an effective treatment. CBT helps you learn skills to manage health
anxiety disorder and find different ways to manage your worries other than excessive medical
testing or avoidance of medical care.

PERFECTIONISM

Perfectionism occurs when people set unrealistically high standards of being perfect at
something. Such people have the tendency to fear failure and they believe they should not
make any mistakes. In trying to achieve perfection, they often procrastinate while worrying
about little details and wanting to make sure everything is perfect. The expectation to be
flawless leads them to feel overwhelmed and stressed about their work and daily life.
People with this tendency often get bogged down in too many details thus causing
avoidable delays and leading to deadlines being missed. Perfectionism is not only a risk
factor for developing psychological disorders like depression, anxiety and eating disorders, but it
can also be a poor prognostic factor for treatment success with other disorders.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Exposure/Response Prevention are highly effective in
reducing perfectionism by changing the way people think about success and by doing
behavioral experiments so that the people can see what it’s like to not use their current safety
behaviors or compulsions. Both of these research-supported and user-friendly treatments can
enhance productivity without compromising the pursuit of excellence.

TICS AND TOURETTE’S DISORDER

Tics are repeated, sudden, involuntary muscle movements and vocalizations (e.g. repetitive eye
blinking, involuntary random sounds, sudden pitch changes, repeating words or sounds,
sniffing, unusual postures, involuntary muscle movements such as shrugging shoulders or hand
gestures). Both vocal and motor tics can variably be simple or complex. They also can be
non-rhythmic, random, and sporadic. Tourette’s syndrome is a tic disorder that involves motor
tics and vocal tics. These tics may come and go over the course of one’s life with varying
intensity and may occur simultaneously. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for tics, including
Habit Reversal Training, can help you monitor tics, identify premonitory urges, and learn to
voluntarily move in a way that’s incompatible with the tics thus decreasing or eliminating tics.

SKIN PICKING/HAIR-PULLING DISORDERS

Skin picking (Excoriation Disorder) is a type of mental disorder where people repeatedly pick
their skin. Skin picking can cause cuts, lesions, bleeding, and permanent damage to the skin.
Hair-pulling (Trichotillomania) is a mental disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to
pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop. Our
counselors at Houston OCD Counseling only provide evidence-based solutions to deal with
these disorders by using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Habit Reversal Training. These two
therapies used in combination can significantly reduce symptoms of hair-pulling and skin
picking.