All of us are privy to minor obsessions about some things in our lives, be it where we place the salt and pepper pots to how we part our hair. However, for some people obsessive tendencies can take over their life and have a significant impact on their daily routines and enjoyment.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious disorder that can be extremely disabling if not treated. Approximately 2% of the population have a diagnosable condition of OCD.

Common obsessions include:

  • Committing perceived antisocial or immoral acts
  • Dirt and disease
  • Other harm to self or others
  • Orderliness: things being done in the 'right' way
  • Nonsense: tunes, meaningless phrases

Common compulsions or rituals include:

  • Washing/cleaning
  • Checking
  • Repeating actions or thoughts
  • 'Good thoughts'
  • Rumination: turning something over and over again in your mind to be absolutely certain


  • Obsessions, or compulsions, or both
    • Obsessions – Recurrent or persistent thoughts, impulses or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety and distress. The person attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, impulses or images, or to neutralise them with some other thought or action.
    • Compulsions – Repetitive behaviours (e.g., handwashing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g. praying, counting, repeating words silently) that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession, or according to rules that must be applied rigidly. The behaviours or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing distress or preventing some dreaded event or situation; however these behaviours or mental acts either are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralise or are clearly excessive.
  • The obsessions and compulsions cause marked distress, are time consuming, or significantly interfere with the person's quality of life

Best Evidence-Based Treatments

The National Institute of Health Care and Excellence (NICE) recommend the following psychological therapies for the highest success rate in treating obsessive compulsive disorders.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) including Exposure and Response Prevention:
Cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, behaviours and physiological sensations. The cognitive facet assumes that the meaning one gives to the obsessions is important and if you can change the unhelpful interpretation or belief you can change the feelings (anxiety and/or fear) associated with it. The behavioural facet assumes changing what you do is often a powerful way of testing your beliefs about the obsessions and compulsions, which can improve affect and reduce the distress. ERP is used to address the unhelpful behaviours maintaining OCD.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI's) have been recommended by NICE as effective for moderate to severe OCD. In the case of severe OCD the combination of CBT (including ERP) and an SSRI is recommended.

Elite Psychology comprises of an expert team, specialising in the range of best private evidence-based therapies for OCD. Our highly qualified associates are accredited in the most successful therapies, complimented by psychiatrists who can prescribe medication on private prescriptions. We can assess you and provide the most efficacious therapy tailored to your difficulties. We know the importance of being understood, and endeavour to deliver the highest standard of psychological interventions to meet your needs.

Call us on 020 3815 7935 for further information or to book an assessment. Alternatively you can complete the online contact form.