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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Therapists In Denver And Nearby Specializing In Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of various anxiety disorders. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services defines OCD as “a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, recurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.” Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, impulses or mental images that prompt anxiety. Compulsions are behaviors an individual with OCD feels compelled to do in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions. Almost all individuals have intrusive thoughts sometimes, but a person with OCD experience them more frequently and feel extreme distress if they don’t act on the impulses.

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Common OCD Variations

There is an infinite amount of OCD subtypes, however, most individuals diagnosed with OCD fall into one of the following variations:

  • Checking- Individuals who experience this subtype perform checking rituals to relieve distress from events that may not be as severe, may not have happened or could have happened as typical.
    • Common obsessions of Checking OCD:
      • Doubt of not having locked home doors
      • Anxiety of accidentally leaving a household appliance turned on, such as a stove or oven
      • Fear of leaving water taps on, on accident
      • Panic of losing personal items, such as a wallet or purse
      • Fear of having written or said something incorrectly or inappropriately
      • Fear of a disaster taking place
    • Common compulsions of Checking OCD:
      • Repeatedly checking locks on car, home, room and/or office
      • Repeatedly checking one’s stove and oven to ensure they are turned off
      • Repeatedly checking faucets to ensure they are off
      • Repeatedly ensuring personal items are with them
      • Repeatedly seeking reassurance that what was said/sent was appropriate and accurate
  • Cleaning and Contamination- These individuals may be separated between those who fear harm through contamination and those who feel discomfort through contamination without fear of harm.
    • Common obsessions of Cleaning and Contamination OCD:
      • Fear of being contaminated with germs that may cause harm to oneself or a loved one
      • Worry of contaminating others with own germs
    • Common compulsions of Cleaning and Contamination OCD:
      • Excessively washing of hands in order to feel clean from dirt and germs
        • Sometimes in a ritualistic manner by washing each individual finger/fingernail
        • May not turn off tap with bare heads, will instead use paper towel or other item
      • Excessively engaging in ritualized toothbrushing, grooming or bathing
      • Excessive use of hand sanitizer in between handwashing
      • May wear gloves, tissues or other items to open doors or touch items in public
      • Avoiding touching others, including during handshakes
      • Avoiding going to certain places due to fearing contamination
  • Symmetry and Ordering- Individuals with this subtype experience uncomfortable obsessions and perform compulsions surrounding the way items are arranged and/or with things that appear asymmetrical. These individuals may perform rituals because they receive sudden urges or just because they “feel right.”
    • Common obsessions of Symmetry and Ordering OCD:
      • Discomfort when confronted about items being misaligned or out of place
      • Fear something harmful may happen to oneself or a loved one if objects aren’t perfectly organized and/or even
        • Ex: pillows at home and pencils at work
      • Extreme desire for symmetry and experience intense anxiety over asymmetry
        • Scratching both sides of face an even amount of time/space
        • Waking with the same pressure each time they take a step
        • Holding objects in both hands with the same amount of pressure
      • Overreaction to items being or seeming asymmetrical
    • Common compulsions of Symmetry and Ordering OCD:
      • Arranging objects symmetrically and in a specific order
        • Ex: arranging shoes in a closet by color and cans in a pantry by alphabetical order
      • Avoiding certain areas/rooms that contain symmetrical lines and geometric shapes that may cause an urge to trace with their eyes
        • Ex: tiles in a restroom
      • Organizing objects so they are evenly spaced out from one another
      • Repeating tasks until there are no more visible asymmetries or imperfections
        • Ex: rewriting words so they have the exact same style, rewriting sentences to have the same number of letters on each line
      • Completing task the same amount on one side as the other to “even up” behavior
        • Ex: scratching other side of face the exact amount of time as the other, tapping the same amount on one side of the table as the other
      • Organizing objects to a specific order and acquiring more if there “aren’t enough” or getting rid of some if there are “too many” to get them “just right”
  • Hoarding- Individuals with this OCD subtype may carry out compulsions caused by the fear of something harmful happening to oneself or a loved one if something is thrown out and/or may feel emptiness after getting rid of an object. They may also be completing tasks in accordance with a “magic number.”
    • Common obsessions of Hoarding OCD:
      • Fears that something harmful may happen to oneself or loved ones if something is discarded
      • Fear of running out of items if too many are thrown away
      • Experience a feeling of emptiness or incompleteness if something is thrown away
        • Individuals may keep items they do not use regularly because of memories associated with them or because they may need them in the future
          • Ex: childhood toys
      • Intense feelings to abide by a “magic number”
        • Ex: buying items in multiples of 6 because that is the individuals “magic number”
      • Severe anxiety when attempting to get rid of items although they may feel embarrassed of possessions
      • Indecisiveness on what items to keep and where to categorize/organize them
      • Fears related to contamination
        • Individuals may not pick up items from the floor because they may be contaminated
        • Individuals may become suspicious that others are touching their possessions
    • Common compulsions of Hoarding OCD:
      • Purchasing all of the items that a person has touched in a store to keep others from being contaminated
      • Saving nonessential items that won’t be needed in the future
        • Ex: opened mail, newspapers, clothing that no longer fits, old food
      • Purchasing items in multiples to abide to a person’s magic number
      • Collecting items in an isolated area because they are contaminated and should not be touched by others
  • Intrusive Thoughts- This subtype may also be known as Purely Obsessional OCD (Pure O). Individuals with this subtype engage in hidden, mental compulsions that typically surround romance, sexuality, violence, health, faith and responsibility.
    • Common obsessions of Intrusive Thoughts OCD:
      • Fear of harming oneself, a loved one or a stranger
      • Fear of not being loved or good enough by/for your partner
      • Fear of having a different sexuality than the one you currently identify with
      • Fear of offending a god, your religion or your religious community
    • Common compulsions of Intrusive Thoughts OCD:
      • Thinking that you are a bad person and fearing that others will think you are a bad person as well
      • Having violent, sexual and other inappropriate thoughts towards oneself, a loved one or a stranger
      • Avoiding places, events, items and people that are related to intrusive thoughts experienced
      • Seeking reassurance from church, family and/or community about the conclusions you determine are the causes for your thoughts

Symptoms and Signs

Individuals with OCD experience a “better safe than sorry” mindset in an attempt to prevent damage or harm. They may experience behaviors and compulsions multiple, even hundreds, of times a day that may cause a significant impact in the life of someone affected. Symptoms of OCD typically begin gradually and may vary in severity throughout life as they may come and go, reduce over time, or worsen. The following list is not a complete list of symptoms, as other symptoms may be associated with these OCD as well.

  • Fear of being contaminated by germs from objects that others have touched
  • Hand-washing until skin becomes raw
  • Spending an excessive amount of time washing, cleaning or organizing
  • Repeating tasks in certain patterns
    • Counting, tapping, other senseless things to reduce anxiety
  • Unwanted thoughts
    • Aggressive or terrifying thoughts about harming yourself or others
  • Doubting that you completed important tasks and excessively checking to make sure it was completed
    • Locking the front door, turning off appliances
  • Avoiding situations that may trigger an obsession or compulsion
  • Feeling extreme distress when items aren’t symmetrical or organized in a specific way
  • Accumulating unnecessary items
    • Newspapers, empty food containers
  • Inability to break routines or rituals

Getting Support with OCD

OCD can be successfully treated today through various methods, including therapy and counseling. The therapists displayed below specialize in treating clients with OCD, are credentialed with various insurance companies, and have varied availability to meet most client needs.

Patricia Ryan-Johnson LCSW

- Offers sessions only online

Available on 5/25/2022 at 1:00 PM. Book appointment.

Welcome. I know that it takes courage to reach out for support, so, thank you for taking the first step to a more fulfilled and happier...

Keith Long LPC

- Offers sessions only online

Keith only sees clients over 16 years old.

Available on 5/27/2022 at 9:30 AM. Book appointment.

Therapist in Aurora, Keith Long is licensed in Colorado as an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor). He has a Master of Arts Degree in...

Kevin Barr LMFT

- Offers sessions only online

“Without awareness we are not truly alive” – James Bugental Hello! My name is Kevin Barr. I’ve been practicing therapy for...

Becky Guido LPC

- Offers sessions in-person and online

Available on 6/2/2022 at 1:30 PM. Book appointment.

Becky Guido is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) based in Denver, CO. She started her career in mental health in 2006 when she...

Christina Pacheco LPC

- Offers sessions in-person and online

Are you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, or even hopeless? Do you wonder if things will ever get better? Whether you are experiencing...

Bonnie Mucklow CAC III / LMFT / LPC

- Offers sessions in-person and online

Bonnie does not find online therapy suitable for children ages 9 and under.

Greenwood Village therapist, Bonnie Mucklow, is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), licensed professional counselor (LPC)...

Stephanie Berliant LCSW

- Offers sessions only online

Attention is one of the most powerful gifts we can give. This philosophy drives my practice. I strive to listen well, to understand you,...

Rebecca Hickman LPC

- Offers sessions in-person and online

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and have been practicing in the mental health and addiction field since 2006.  I am passionate...

Erica Krakovitz CAC III / Ph.D.

- Offers sessions only online

Our greatest accomplishments involve conquering our fears and insecurities. Sometimes fear and shame keep us stuck and prevent us from...

Susie Martinez LPC / MA

- Offers sessions in-person and online

I am committed to providing compassionate and individualized psychotherapy in a warm, safe and accepting environment. In our work together...

Marly Kravetz LPC / MA

- Offers sessions only online

Marly sees Adults only (and young adults 21+ years of age)

Marly’s office is in Broomfield, CO, where she sees clients with ages ranging from 3 months to 93 years old. She has worked in community,...

Janet Borelli LCSW

- Offers sessions in-person and online

Youngest child Janet will see is 4 years old.

Are you under stress? Overwhelmed? Do you feel unable to move ahead in your life? would you like to feel more effective with your children...

Brianna Roggow LCSW

- Offers sessions only online

I believe every child, teen and family is unique. With this comes unique challenges that you and your child may be experiencing. From...

Julie Bahl LCSW

- Offers sessions in-person and online

Highlands Ranch therapist, Julie Bahl, LCSW, is a Licensed Therapist with Westside Behavioral Care. She loves providing therapy for adults,...

Michael Gyorffy LCSW

- Offers sessions only online

Hello! I have been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) since 2007 and have been working in the mental health field for over 20 years....

Tomas Clarke LPC

- Offers sessions only online

“My heart aches and a drowsy numbness pains my sense…” If you’ve ever felt something like this, then you know how hard life can...

Tye Kemp LPC

- Offers sessions only online

The experience of life can be dark at times, but it is my sincere belief that with positive intention, dedicated effort, and genuine...

Andre’a Kirkland LPC

- Offers sessions only online

Perhaps you are here in Colorado surrounded by beauty and a vibrant community that is always seeking the next best thing. It can be an...

Wendy Klein LCSW

- Offers sessions in-person and online

I am a strong advocate of mental health and believe that the state of mental health is on a continuum. Just like physical health needs...

Sarah Stormont MSW

- Offers sessions in-person and online

Sarah only sees adults over 18 years old.

Has your life not been as fulfilling lately or have you been struggling with making healthy changes? I am on your team to support and...

Andrea Lockhart Ph.D.

- Offers sessions only online

I am an actively engaged therapist and work collaboratively with you to find a pathway through your distress to get you to the place...

Kasandra Barr LMFT

- Offers sessions only online

Kasandra is only accepting clients 19 years old and over.

Hi, I’m Kasandra Barr (She/Her/Hers)! I have been practicing therapy for almost 10 years. I earned my Masters degree in Counseling...

Lynne McRae Psy.D.

- Offers sessions only online

Lynne does not provide online therapy for adolescents and is only seeing adults at this time.

My name is Dr. Lynne McRae, and I am a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional, Certified Community...

Laurie Tonelli Ph.D.

- Offers sessions in-person and online

As a licensed psychologist, I specialize in individual therapy, couples counseling, and family therapy. I received my Ph.D. in Counseling...

Molly Jaques LPC / MA

- Offers sessions only online

Molly is not accepting new male clients over 18 years old and only sees child clients 8 years and older.

Molly Jaques is a LPC or Licensed Professional Counselor. She has a BA in Psychology and a Master’s of Counseling from Regis University,...

Lauran Jacks LCSW / Psy.D.

- Offers sessions only online

Thank you for viewing my profile. I have 3 graduate degrees, all in mental/behavioral health, licenses in Co. and CA., and I am comfortable...

David Karl LPC

- Offers sessions only online

David Karl is a bilingual therapist in Denver able to see English and Spanish speaking patients. English Respecting your culture, empowering...

Mark Pennick Ph.D.

- Offers sessions in-person and online

Mark prefers teletherapy sessions, but can be available for in-person sessions after discussing the client's needs.

I began my working to help people in 2002, doing direct services for people with developmental disabilities. My career has included post-graduate...

Marsha Visscher LCSW

- Offers sessions in-person and online

About meI’ve lived in Colorado since 1997 and am married and have three children. I’ve had a longstanding curiosity about people...

Barry Fowler LPC

- Offers sessions in-person and online

I am from IreIand, and I graduated from Naropa University’s stellar Contemplative Psychotherapy program. I use meditation and mindfulness...

Jonathan Minifie LPC

- Offers sessions in-person and online

Jonathan C. Minifie has more than 20 years of experience working with adolescents. He has worked extensively with adolescents and individuals...

Rachel Mahoney LCSW

- Offers sessions in-person and online

Rachel Mahoney is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 22 years of experience in working with children, adolescents and adults...

Molly Esterl-Byrne LCSW

- Offers sessions in-person and online

My name is Molly Esterl-Byrne, LCSW. I have been providing therapeutic services for the past 33 years in the Denver-metro area. I graduated...

Ben DeVoss LPC

- Offers sessions in-person and online

Let’s face it, life is difficult. While many people eventually find ways to manage their problems one way or another, working with...

Kellee Trautmann LAC / LPC

- Offers sessions in-person and online

What led me to become a therapist was a lifelong curiosity about what makes us who we are as well as an interest in culture. I’m...

Angela Gould Ph.D.

- Offers sessions only online

My first practicum in psychotherapy was in 1977.  I have been practicing for 42 years and still feel a great deal of excitement and...

Patrick Duiven Psy.D.

- Offers sessions in-person and online

Whether you’re dealing with depression, anxiety, relationship issues, or a combination of all of these, it’s important to know that...

Lindy Steece LPC

- Offers sessions only online

I am a believer in Dreams.  I believe Life is short and quality counts.  I am curious about your life:  how you handle situations,...

Eric Hilborn LPC

- Offers sessions in-person and online

Eric Hilborn is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) who provides therapy in Littleton and in the Denver area. He specializes in individual...

Dr. Thomas Calhoun Ph.D.

- Offers sessions in-person and online

Tom Calhoun holds a PhD and is a licensed psychologist practicing for over 30 years. His experience includes treating adolescents, adults,...