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Specialties

Westside Behavioral Care / Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

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.

Joe Barfoot

Offers sessions only online

Joe Barfoot is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker LCSW with over 30 years of experience in therapy with children, adolescents, adults and families. He is originally from the Kansas City area where he was a Supervisor of an adolescent unit at the internationally known Menninger…

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Julie Bahl

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, adolescents, and families. She also specializes in proving therapy for alcohol abuse and addiction. In Julie’s Bahl’s words about her therapy practice in Highlands Ranch: I…

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Susie Martinez /

Offers sessions only online

I am committed to providing compassionate and individualized psychotherapy in a warm, safe and accepting environment. In our work together we will strive to bring about the emotional growth, change and healing you desire. I use a flexible and integrative approach to therapy within an…

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David Karl

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 you: individuals, couples, families; providing guidance and advice to solve your own problems. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, in private practice, serving Denver…

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Keith Long

Offers sessions only online

Therapist in Aurora, Keith Long is licensed in Colorado as an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor). He has a Master of Arts Degree in Community Counseling from the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado, and received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Midland University, Fremont, Nebraska….

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Lynne McRae

Offers sessions only online

My name is Lynne McRae, and I am a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional, Certified Community Herbalist, Reiki Master, and Yoga Nidra Teacher. Do you feel overwhelmed by the challenges of life? Stressed out, burned out, coming out? I work well with…

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Molly Esterl-Byrne

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 from the University of Denver with a Master of Social Work in 1988 and have been licensed as a Clinical Social Worker…

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Eric Hilborn

Offers sessions only online

Eric Hilborn is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) who provides therapy in Littleton and in the Denver area. He specializes in individual therapy, marital therapy, couples counseling, adolescent therapy and group therapy. Eric provides therapy for adults ages 20 years and older and for teens…

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Jessica Mielke

Offers sessions in-person and online

Jessica Mielke is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who focus on mind and body wellness. Jessica’s philosophy is when we are not feeling well emotionally this can play out in other areas of such as our physical well-being, relationships, work performance and overall fulfillment. Jessica…

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Rebecca Hickman

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 about working with clients who have experienced trauma around relationships, have attachment issues, codependency, anxiety, depression, addiction, and survivors of abuse. Many people…

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Andre’a Kirkland

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 intimidating process to find your purpose and make your mark especially when you’re not feeling like yourself. “I know where…

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Janet Borelli

Offers sessions in-person and online

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 or your marriage? I have 30 years experience in individual child and family counseling, as well as couple counseling. I…

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Bonnie indoors wearing a blue top while smiling
Bonnie Mucklow / /

Offers sessions only in-person

Greenwood Village therapist, Bonnie Mucklow, is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), licensed professional counselor (LPC) and Colorado Addictions Counselor (CAC III) who has been with Westside Behavioral Care since its inception in 1998. She is very highly respected here. About Bonnie Mucklow, Licensed…

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Patrick Duiven

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 psychotherapy offers hope for a brighter future. I strive to give each person the experience of being clearly seen and deeply understood. Through interactive inquiry…

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Stephanie Small professional headshot taken outdoors while wearing a black top
Stephanie Small

Stephanie Small is a licensed clinical social worker and nutritionist. She received her BA from Yale University, her MSW from Smith College for Social Work, and certificates in Holistic Nutrition Education and Mental Health Nutrition from Bauman College and the Academy for Addiction and Mental…

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Jonathan Minifie

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 in school and clinical settings. Mr. Minifie has experience in working with multiple diagnoses including schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar mood disorders, attention deficit…

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Stephanie Berliant

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, to find the good that has been ignored or buried, and to name themes and beliefs that keep you stuck. I…

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Wendy Klein

Offers sessions only 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 to be maintained, so does mental health. Some people suffer from organic mental illnesses, which are similar to suffering from…

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Emilie Graham

Offers sessions only online

I am a relationship-based therapist and your needs shape and guide my approach to our work. As humans, we often internalize beliefs and become stuck in relational patterns. When these beliefs and/or patterns become rigid rather than remaining fluid, our relationships with ourselves and with…

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Marly Kravetz /

Offers sessions only online

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, business & educational settings as well as both inpatient and outpatient hospital programs. She has maintained a private practice since 1989 (in Colorado since 2013).

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Laurie Tonelli

Offers sessions in-person and online

As a licensed psychologist, I specialize in couples counseling, family therapy, and psychological testing. I received my Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver. During graduate school, and the years that followed, I conducted research alongside renowned psychologists examining couple and family communication….

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Molly Jaques /

Offers sessions only online

Please note: Molly is not accepting new male clients over 18 years old at this time. Molly Jaques is a LPC or Licensed Professional Counselor. She has a BA in Psychology and a Master’s of Counseling from Regis University, graduating with honors. She is trained…

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Marsha Visscher

Offers sessions in-person and online

I’ve lived in Colorado since 1997 and am married and have three children. I’ve had a longstanding curiosity about people and what drives their behavior. This curiosity eventually led me to the field of clinical social work and specifically, psychotherapy. The most rewarding part about…

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Michael Gyorffy

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. I have a B.A in psychology (Asbury University) and a master’s degree in social work (Spalding University). My clinical experience…

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Diem Phan

Dr. Diem Phan is a Psychologist in the Denver community specializing in using culturally-sensitive Acceptance-Commitment Therapy, Dialectical-Behavior Therapy, and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for treatment of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, interpersonal difficulties, family-of-origin concerns, grief/loss, cultural diversity issues, and trauma across the lifespan. She also specializes in…

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Angela Gould

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 dedication to my profession.  Over the years I have worked in a variety of settings:  VA Hospital, Private Psychiatric Hospital, Outpatient…

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Lindy Steece

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, what feels good or bad, what is happening Now and what went on before.  We will work together in order to…

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Dr. Thomas Calhoun

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, couples and families. Tom has advanced training in many modalities of treatment including hypnosis, EMDR, CBT, mindfulness meditation, energy psychology techniques, couples counseling, spiritual…

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