I’m currently helping two people who’ve suffered with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) for many years. Although Amanda from Rickmansworth and Sally from Abbots Langley (not their real names) both chose The Thrive Programme in Bushey, their recovery from OCD has been as individual as their symptoms.
Amanda’s OCD liberation
John, a mutual friend recommended that Amanda see me after he did The Thrive Programme with me last year in Watford. I met Amanda first at a social event in Watford. She was surprised at how helpful some of my comments were, even in that brief chat. John bought Amanda a gift voucher to encourage her to get some help and she came for a free initial consultation. We had a more private chat and Amanda chose to put her gift voucher towards doing The Thrive Programme in my group course. She wanted to share her journey and learn from others, seeing their progress and sharing her own. So the group was a great option for her.
Even with that positive start, on the morning of the first group session Amanda told John “I’m not sure what to expect, and I’m doubtful that anything can be changed when you get to my age, probably a waste of money”. She’d had OCD all her life. Her mum has OCD and her grandmother has it too. She thought it was probably genetic.
After the first session she was buzzing, already she could see a way out and she started reading the book immediately. She told John that evening “I’ve had an epiphany series… it’s like the book was written for me… two situations where I can see clearly where my errors in thinking were… honestly everyone should go through this! Week 1, can’t put the book down… no one ever teaches you how to use your brain to create the life you want… why don’t we do that?… don’t our kids deserve this?… hang on… don’t we deserve this?”
Amanda’s improvement started immediately and each week she was getting happier and healthier and letting go of more and more of her OCD related habits.
On week 5, Amanda shared a real fear with the group. She explained her main OCD habit was cleaning her home. Although she had a small apartment, each evening, after 12 hours at work, she’d spend 2 hours cleaning her home. Each Thursday, she’d do a deep clean, pulling all the furniture out and really making sure everything was spotless. Her fear was, she’d not be able to do a deep clean this week as she was going out with John in Watford on Thursday night. In the supportive and non judgemental atmosphere of our little group, Amanda had been able to share a deep concern and we respected, felt honoured, that she’d been able to share that fear. We talked through the issue in “Thrive terms”, to put some structure to her understanding. And Amanda decided she’d challenge herself to skip cleaning on 2 nights that week. We all left the meeting feeling empowered and energised.
The following week we started the meeting and Amanda said excitedly “I’ve so been looking forward to seeing you all, I wanted to share, I only cleaned once this week! And that wasn’t a deep clean, it was just a normal clean! I’ve been walking with my neighbour, I’ve just got home and enjoyed a glass of wine, I’ve watched TV, I’ve pottered…” Amanda was thrilled and so were we.
The group’s now on a 7 week break, putting their new skills into practice, enjoying their new freedom and identifying any last issues for us to share at our reunion meeting. I happened to bump into Amanda last weekend though and she’s simply stopped the obsessive cleaning. There are still some areas of her habit she’d like to work on, that’s normal. Once the change has started it’s easy to see other areas of life you’d like to improve. Now she knows how, Amanda’s confident in her ability to overcome those unhelpful behaviours too. She’s using her brain to create the life she wants.
Sally’s OCD revelation
It’s not always that quick, and sometimes, if something’s not quite understood, people slip back into old habits.
Sally had seen another Thrive Consultant 2 years ago. Her sessions had been fantastic and she had made massive changes to her habits. However, very soon after her last session she moved out of the area. She found the move difficult and her new habits were not strong enough to get through a new home, temporary employment and relationship difficulties so she went back to OCD, the relationship broke up and she moved back to Abbots Langley 2 months before seeing me. She knew Thrive had worked before so she was reading the book again. But Sally was just not getting better this time. To her history of anorexia, IBS and OCD, she now added depression.
Sally booked a free initial consultation with me and decided to do 1:1 sessions. We agreed, we’d go back to the beginning of The Thrive Programme. I advised her that it’s important to get the foundation right and there were some foundation bits that weren’t quite hanging together in Sally’s mind.
To begin with, Sally did well, progressing as we’d expect. Then she started to hit barriers, delaying her progress. She had difficulty moving forward. We agreed to slow the pace so that she could really understand what was going on. We spent longer on certain sections of the book and explored some recent events in more detail. One week we explored her reactions and beliefs around feelings of guilt. It was a pivotal moment in her journey and moved her understanding on brilliantly.
Another week, Sally came in and she was so pleased to tell me she’d been “putting things into perspective”. Her high desire for control meant that she checked windows and radiators and the handbrake on her car obsessively to make sure there was no risk of burglary or fire or accidents. She told me “I’ve spent 2 days rethinking things in a more positive perspective and I realised I’ve already reduced all those behaviours. I haven’t touched the handbrake obsessively for weeks!” Her work relationships were improving and she’d even started to be a little more confident with those around her. Sally was much happier and feeling proud of her achievements.
Sally wanted to know “why” though, “why do I always feel as if I’m doing something wrong?”
We spent most of that session talking about stages of brain development in childhood and how these behaviours were maintained now with current belief systems. We discussed ways to change this sort of ingrained belief. The Thrive Programme and the skills she’d already learnt were one option to enable that belief change. Or we could add in a session of CPI (Cognitive Processing and Integration) to get a different perspective. Having understood the foundations of The Thrive Programme, Sally chose that option, she already understood exactly what to do and was happy to go away and challenge some of the remaining unhelpful beliefs she was now recognising.
Sally finished the book last week and was feeling much better. Many of her behaviours were changing but we both wanted to make sure her foundation was strong. She decided on a 2 week break before seeing me again.
Your OCD is different from my OCD!
Both Amanda and Sally had OCD, although Amanda told me on session 2 that she didn’t believe in it anymore!
Their OCD was different and created in a different way so their OCD treatment had to be different to enable both to progress at their own speed.
However, the psychology underpinning OCD is the same for all sufferers and follows some very predictable patterns. That’s how The Thrive Programme provides help to overcome OCD. The book explains the underlying psychology in a really accessible way. Then the Thrive Consultant helps the trainee to apply that understanding to themselves.
Instead of wasting time with OCD behaviours, Thrive trainees learn new skills and get new insight to enable them to use their determination and focus to create success in business or in life or in sport or … whatever they want to use it for. I’m pleased to be able to help both Amanda and Sally to overcome their OCD thinking so that they can create health, happiness and success with skills they learn through The Thrive Programme.
If you know someone suffering with habits and behaviours that they want to change, please ask them to call me to book a free initial consultation in my comfy Watford office:
177, The Parade,
Watford wellbeing and life change centre
Parking is easy in town (Sainsbury’s car park on Albert Rd South and the Council car park at The Avenue, Hempstead Road, Watford WD17 4AJ are closest). Other transport links are great too. Just 5 minutes walk from Watford Junction train (mainline from Euston and London Overground) and bus stations. Easy access to the M1, A41 and M25.