Obsessive compulsive disorder

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition involving obsessive thoughts and compulsions to act in particular ways.

OCD is quite common in our society. About 1 in 50 people develop OCD at some point in their lives, with men and women affected equally. People of all ages, including children, can develop OCD. 

Obsessions are unpleasant thoughts, images or urges that keep coming into a person’s mind. Obsessions tend to feel more intrusive and repetitive than normal worries. Common obsessions focus on hygiene and cleanliness, safety and tidiness, though there are many others.

Obsessions cause distress; compulsions are the things that people do to try to relieve that distress. Common compulsions include hand-washing, checking that a door is locked and repeating specific phrases.

The nature of obsessive compulsive behaviour

The words compulsive and obsessive are often used in relation to behaviours such as gambling, drinking and exercising. However, these behaviours can be pleasurable. The obsessions and compulsions of OCD are never pleasurable – they are always experienced as an unpleasant demand or burden. Not all people who demonstrate compulsive behaviour have OCD.

A person with OCD knows that their obsessions and compulsions are excessive or irrational. However, they find it difficult or impossible to resist them. Compulsions aren’t about being safe, clean or tidy, for example; they are about stopping the obsessive thoughts.

Initially the compulsive behaviour relieves the anxiety created by the obsessive thought, but that relief is only temporary. The obsessive thought recurs and the person feels compelled to repeat the compulsive behaviour. This can become a self-perpetuating cycle.

Many people with OCD feel great shame. They think they should be able to get it under control. Often they keep their obsessions and compulsions secret and may not seek help for fear of being judged. 

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Counselling can help those with OCD

OCD can be treated with therapy, which may be accompanied by medication. An experienced therapist will help someone suffering from OCD to gradually increase their capacity to cope with anxiety. This will enable them to resist their compulsions for longer, which in turn will gradually reduce their anxiety.

Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is often mentioned in connection with OCD, but other types of therapy can also be effective.

Our therapists are carefully picked for their experience, warmth and empathy. They won’t judge you.

If you would like further information, please contact us or book an initial consultation

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Our therapists

We have over 30 qualified and experienced therapists to choose from.

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One Therapy London

Counselling, psychotherapy, couples counselling in London since 2006

Therapist Barbara Perini
Barbara Perini

Barbara is an accredited member of BACP, holding an MSc in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and adhering to the BACP ethical framework Her approach is open-ended, offering both short-term and long-term therapy Barbara has also trained in Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT), a short-term (16 sessions), semi-structured individual therapy developed for mood...

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Yussef Ferguson

Yussef is a psychodynamic psychotherapist who offers both long and short term personal therapy to individuals He has experience of working with a diverse range of clients and can provide a warm, confidential space to explore and gain insight into any past or present personal difficulties and experiences Yussef works with issues such as anxiety, depression, loss,...

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Therapist Mita Hiremath
Mita Hiremath

Mita has been involved in the field of counselling and psychotherapy for over 30 years and has a wealth of experience working in the voluntary sector, the NHS and private practice She is a qualified counsellor and psychotherapist Additionally, she holds an MSc in Psychotherapy and is a trained EMDR therapist She has also facilitated support groups in the voluntary...


Therapist Janis Dellner
Janis Dellner

Janis offers an empathic, non-judgmental and safe environment where her clients can explore the issues that are currently troubling them  Janis works collaboratively to explore and challenge thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are no longer serving her clients’ wellbeing, interests and relationships with themselves and others  She believes it is through the...

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Therapist Silvi Naskinova
Silvi Naskinova

Silvi is a psychodynamic psychotherapist offering both long- and short-term therapy  She aims to provide a safe, supportive and non-judgmental space for her clients to explore whatever is on their minds Her work helps individuals understand how their experiences (both past and present) and any unconscious forces might be impacting their relationships and ways of coping...

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Therapist Ben Marks
Ben Marks

Ben is an experienced psychotherapist who has helped many people through difficult times in their lives He works with clients with a wide range of personal issues around depression, anxiety, bereavement, trauma, abuse, loneliness, stresses within the workplace, low self esteem, relationship and sexual problems including performance anxiety, erectile dysfunction and...

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Therapist Nicola Reeves
Nicola Reeves

Nicola is a psychodynamic psychotherapist and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) therapist Nicola believes in giving clients time and space to approach therapy in the way they need to approach it She finds this is the best way to develop a therapeutic relationship that allows feelings to be truly explored and evaluated As a psychodynamic...


Therapist Asma Gharbi
Asma Gharbi

Asma offers psychodynamic, humanistic and integrative therapies to individuals and couples She tailors her approach to meet the needs and preferences of her clients She offers short and long term therapy Asma provides a non-judgemental space for her clients, where they can feel safe to explore their feelings, make sense of their experiences and forge deep lasting...

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Therapist Shelly Klein
Shelley Klein

As a psychodynamic therapist Shelley brings a wealth of experience to her work and supports her patients to talk about those aspects of their lives they are finding painful, upsetting or difficult to deal with, in a confidential, non-judgmental and peaceful setting Shelley is particularly interested in working with those who are experiencing depression, bereavement, high...


Therapist Tom Deitch
Tom Deitch

Tom is a popular and approachable psychotherapist who has extensive experience working with people from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds He brings a wealth of life experience, training and understanding to his work, offering help with depression, trauma, anxiety, abuse, sexual problems, addiction, relationship difficulties and many of the other obstacles life...

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