CBT for OCD: habituation or cognitive shift?

Morris, Lottie; Nightingale, Jim
December 2014
Cognitive Behaviour Therapist;Dec2014, Vol. 7, p1
Academic Journal
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) including Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is recommended by NICE as the psychological treatment of choice for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Twenty-five percent of OCD patients refuse ERP, and many psychologists advocate formulation-driven cognitive therapy, including ERP, as opposed to ERP alone. However, a recent meta-analysis suggested there is insufficient evidence to suggest ERP is improved by cognitive methods. This paper proposes to contribute to this debate by providing a detailed description of the treatment of a patient with intrusive cognitions of a sexual nature, who was treated successfully using behavioural experiments designed to test cognitions, rather than ERP. This is, arguably, the way in which most cognitive behavioural therapists would work with someone with OCD. However, this approach is not reflected in the literature at present. The authors report the patient's feedback that therapeutic change was brought about through cognitive shift, as a result of the formulation-driven behavioural experiments.


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