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You Don’t Need to Protect Your Therapist

By: Shaina Charles

Picture this: you’ve been experiencing overwhelming intrusive thoughts that you find kind of scary. Maybe you’re picturing vivid images of using a knife to hurt yourself or someone else, or you have fears about harming a child. Or perhaps, you’ve been noticing a certain sensation in a certain area of your body that you do not want to be having, which leads you to frequent checking behaviours and hyperawareness of your body. Whatever the intrusive thoughts or obsessions and the associated compulsions and rituals are, they cause distress because you feel like you can’t control them, and they do not align with who you are and the things you want. This experience leads you to feelings of shame – you feel as though what you are going through means you are an awful person, dangerous, strange, or unworthy of recovery and support.

To make matters worse, you’re now trying to talk to and share all these confusing experiences with your therapist, who (no offence) is a stranger. It’s hard enough to deal with this on your own, but it can be even more daunting to share your scariest thoughts and fears with someone else. Does this sound familiar?

With OCD, it is common for individuals to experience intrusive thoughts surrounding sensitive, graphic, or traditionally “taboo” topics. It can be easy to fall into the trap of omitting certain parts of the OCD when working with a therapist because you feel shame, don’t want to offend, or don’t want your therapist to judge you. Essentially, you’re protecting your therapist from your experience.

But, here’s the thing. Omitting parts of your OCD experience actually lessens the efficacy of treatment! Your therapist needs to understand your complete experience (even the things that make you SUPER uncomfortable) to create exposures and treatment catered to what you need to overcome OCD!

Take it from us – nothing you say in ERP treatment is going to freak us out or cause us to judge you. OCD North is a safe space for you to explore all your thoughts and emotions (even the ones you’d rather leave alone) unashamedly, and our clinicians want nothing more than to support you and watch you learn to overcome OCD. Therapy is where you explore your scariest thoughts and fears, and we’re prepared for it!

The next time you feel tempted to hold back in therapy or omit specific parts of the OCD experience because you feel ashamed, remember that you are not alone in what you are experiencing. Your feelings are entirely valid, and you can rest assured that at OCD North, your therapist will not judge you. Instead, they will sit with you and support you – especially through the dark, scary stuff. You don’t need to “protect” us… we’re here for you!