Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for HOCD

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a treatment model that can help you overcome the suffering caused by HOCD.
This does not mean that you accept your thoughts as real; it is quite the opposite.

This page will cover

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, ACT?
How will it help with HOCD?
What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

If you would like my help, start with self-help

Dr Elaine Ryan; Founder of MoodSmith

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, usually abbreviated to ACT, is a model of therapy which I shall give a brief overview of now.  Simply put, ACT would suggest that we suffer because of how we relate to experiences in our minds.

For example, say you did something that hurt my feelings.  As it was happening, it was okay for me to be aware that my feelings were hurt.  However, if the day after, the week after,  I am still going over what you did in my head and feeling the pain, it is now me causing my suffering.  The actual event that caused the pain is long over, but I continue to suffer as I keep it alive in my head.

Sometimes when I introduce these ideas, people may think, “no, Elaine, you are not causing your suffering; it is the other person’s fault who hurt your feelings in the first place.”  If you think this, take some time to think about the following.

It is not about casting blame; the event that caused pain has ended.  The way I look at it, I have a choice;

I can blame you for hurting my feelings and let the hurt grow and keep the story alive in my mind every day, or
I can move on
If I keep blaming you, I will keep the original feelings of hurt alive and probably add to it.  After a day, I could start to feel anger and resentment; my suffering intensified because of what I was adding to the original event inside my head.

If I can learn to move on, I feel the hurt when it happens; then it is gone, and I go back to normal.

Sounds simple, right, but sometimes (well, more often than not), we get stuck.  To move on and stop blaming the other person, I have to do the following;

Accept that it happened.

Use some techniques to take the emotion out of the thoughts in my head

Bring me back to what is happening now – I am writing this post you are reading.  I am in a quiet room in my house; nothing at this moment can cause suffering; except my thoughts!

Keep an eye on me.  If I start to suffer or get upset, rather than run with it, I watch what is happening and realise it is stuff going on inside my mind.  This is a good point, as we – you- control this!

The human mind can create an awful lot of suffering that you experience.

How will ACT help you with HOCD?

HOCD survives due to a series of things going on inside your head and a series of things you do, namely, obsessions and compulsions; if you haven’t read about this before, you can read it here and come back to this page.

You are suffering at the minute because your sexual preference has changed; you are suffering because of the battles you are having with your mind.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy will help you in the following ways

You will learn to accept the thoughts and images in your head.  This does not mean that you agree with them or accept them as true; rather you can learn to accept them for what they are – thoughts.

You are suffering now as you try to make sense of the thoughts, grappling to see what they mean.  This is just how your human mind is wired; you, as a normal human being, seek to make sense of thoughts, and situations, but not all thoughts in your head need that type of analysis.

It would help if you learned to accept your thoughts relating to HOCD so they not to grow stronger; you can see this in the video below.  You might have watched this on my main HOCD page, but I’ve included it again to save you from jumping back and forth.

The language – the words you use to talk to yourself inside your head will not be neutral; they will make you feel something.  How you talk about HOCD inside your head will likely make you anxious.  Using ACT, you will learn to take this strong emotional reaction away.  This is important, as it is a strong feeling you get that makes you carry out your compulsions – the things you do to reassure yourself or make yourself feel better.

The problem is not that your sexual preference has changed.  The problem is how you react to what is happening inside your head – and this you can change.

Further reading on HOCD.

Read more on Act at ContextualScience

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