How can you help a family person suffering Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
In many cases the relatives of a person with OCD are totally clueless about how to act to help the affected person. The family may not know or understand the problem and that no conflicts arise, they end up living with all the “rules of TOC”.
How can the family do?
First of all is familiar with the problem, understand and well documented.
Secondly, it is essential to encourage the affected to seek professional help and advice with specialists in the treatment of this disorder because, if untreated, can become a very serious and very disabling disorder person.
Guidelines that will help the patient during treatment
Once the person begins treatment, family members have to be clear about a number of guidelines that will help to successful therapy.
First, it is very important not to get involved in the rituals. Often the family to try to reassure the person suffering OCD actively participates in rituals. For example, answering again and again the same “reassuring” questions: ‘Are you sure I closed the gas valve well, have you seen me?, close to me could ensure 100%? Or in the case a TOC contamination, the couple, for example, can yield to remove all clothing to go home to not “pollute” housing.
The family has to understand that this is not helping the affected person, but is helping to create a loop difficult to break. Family members have to go slowly removing the rules of TOC and not cooperate in such rituals. This sometimes is not so easy because many conflicts can arise, why it is so important the participation of the psychologist.
It is highly advisable active participation in therapy. Sometimes the psychologist can establish a “behavioral contract” between the patient and the family. Here it is set realistic goals and a plan of action to limit or change behaviors.
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For example, in the case of a teenager with a TOC of infection, you can agree with parents who accompany him outside to exposure to the feared situation. The teenager can commit to once wash your hands, when you get home. You can agree that, if the adolescent anxiety, parents meet him once to reassure saying that, actually, is not contaminated clothing.
Once the first objective is achieved, we must strengthen the person positively. It is essential that both the affected family, person agree with the contract rules. Gradually, they will increase the behavioral objectives.
The family has to bear in mind that every day is not as suitable. There may be days when the patient is worse or have more anxiety and we must try to be a little flexible. If anger or resentment is displayed, you can make the affected person more anxiety and thus increase their compulsive behavior.
All these guidelines will be marking the psychologist throughout therapy. It has been shown that the active family in treatment, collaboration plays a key role.