Steps for overcoming HOCD

Dr Elaine Ryan
Written by Dr Elaine Ryan Psychologist and Founder of MoodSmith® Elaine obtained her Dr in Psychology from the University of Surrey and has worked in psychology for 20 years. Dr Ryan specialises in Intrusive Thoughts, OCD and anxiety-related conditions.

I’m guessing that you’ve landed on this page as you have just taken my test on HOCD.  I am going to outline what options are open to you if you are serious about overcoming HOCD.  If you are not sure who I am, my name is Elaine, and I am the psychologist behind MoodSmith.

Regardless of whether you would like my help ( I have an online course that gives you the same things you would get if you saw me in person ) or decide to meet with someone else, these are the things that you need to address.

  • Obsessions
  • Compulsions
  • Behaviours
  • Anxiety and Stress

And I shall list my recommended models of therapy before I go on to explain it all to you!

The recommended treatment for HOCD is CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.  CBT includes Exposure Response Prevention (ERP); I mention that, as I have found that people look for a therapist for ERP, when in fact, it all should be done within Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

I find that people tend to do better if they also undertake some Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and have an understanding of the brain.

Now I shall explain it in a way that makes more sense!

User-friendly steps to overcoming HOCD

Learn how to work with your thoughts and images

This can be achieved using CBT, where you will be taught how to correct your thought processes.  It is also achieved differently through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, where you shall learn to accept your thought processes.

Why this helps

Your thoughts are one of the main things that are keeping you stuck in the HOCD cycle.  Think about it.  If you didn’t have the thoughts, you would probably feel an awful lot better!  Sounds too simple?  CBT and Acceptance and Commitment (ACT) will help you relate to your thought differently, in a more helpful way, as I can take a safe guess that your thoughts are not helpful at the moment.

Stop seeking reassurance

Or another way to think of this is to learn how to stop doing the things you are doing to get reassurance.  This could be learning to stop.

  • analysing it in your head
  • ‘checking’ to make sure you are not gay
  • ‘checking’ to make sure you are still attracted to members of the opposite sex

Why this helps

Not only does the ‘reassurance seeking’ not help, but it also keeps HOCD going.  Getting over HOCD is all about teaching you to stop doing the things that contribute to how you are feeling now.

Stop avoiding

You could well be avoiding people, places or things that you think might ‘trigger’ your HOCD or make you feel worse.  Learning not to avoid things teaches your brain that you are okay, as I find (and you will find in my course) that the things that you are doing help end up making things worse.

Why this helps

Once you stop avoiding, you are starting to get your life back to normal, but you need to manage stress to do this.

Manage anxiety and stress

This is a must.  I think I am safe to assume that HOCD will be causing you distress.  In addition to this, we (as human beings) do not do change well – it makes us anxious!  Learning to manage anxiety is fundamental to the changes you have to make to overcome HOCD; that is why I included an entire program dedicated to managing anxiety, with the course on overcoming HOCD!

Why this helps

Being able to manage stress helps you with all the above!  It also takes the fear away.

Stay out of your head and stop analysing

Most, if not all, of the distress, occurs inside your head.  You suffer because of the constant doubt regarding your sexuality, the constant checking, the constant analysis.  All of this occurs inside your head, but you can learn to let this go.  This is achieved by

  1. having an understanding of what is happening to you, and
  2. by undertaking mindfulness, which I have also included in the course

Why this helps

Once you understand what is happening to you, you will start to see this as something that is happening to you instead of your sexuality changing.  Once you understand its nature, for example, the obsessions and compulsions, it takes the fear away.  It is sort of like being able to stand back from it all and see what is happening in your head.

As I said at the beginning of this, regardless of whether you would like my help or work with someone else, these are the things that I believe will help you the most.  If you would like to look at my course, please feel free to do so.

Further Reading


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for HOCD

Complete guide to intrusive thoughts

Online self-help

If you would like my help, please see my online courses

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