The Benefits of an OCD Support Group:
Receiving the diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can elicit many reactions for someone. There can be feelings of shock or disbelief that they fit into this category, and fear around what that means for their future. There can be relief around finally having a framework to understand the intrusive thoughts and compulsions they have experienced their whole life. Often, there is a combination of both of these emotions and many more, and it can be overwhelming to consider how this new diagnosis will impact their future. The journey toward healing can begin with receiving the diagnosis in the context of individual psychotherapy. One of the benefits of individual therapy is that treatment can be personalized toward their needs.
However, there is an element of healing that can only be found in a group setting, where an individual is one of several people with the same diagnosis. OCD support groups are unique in that individuals know of the others’ diagnosis in a way that offers peer support. Within individual therapy, the therapist is like a coach, giving techniques and guidance. The OCD group is more like playing a team sport, with teammates playing the same game. The benefit is that there is still a “coach”, or therapist in the group setting, but there are others playing the “game” to validate and relate to how difficult it can be to live with OCD. Below are a few of the benefits of being in an OCD support group.
The Benefits of an OCD Support Group: Psychosocial Education:
Where individual therapy might include brainstorming about how to treat one’s OCD, a support group setting often includes psychosocial education, which is learning new skills to apply to life with OCD. Because the group is less geared toward the individual, the group leader teaches general skills that everyone diagnosed with OCD needs to know. Things like how to talk with family about the diagnosis, common issues in pregnancy that pregnant mothers struggle with, or common parenting issues for fathers with OCD are examples of the group topics that will provide more information than what is given in individual therapy. Additionally, strategies to use in a work setting if someone has an OCD diagnosis, or the multitude of ways OCD shows up are other topics that are covered in the context of a support group. The major benefit is that often people learn the skill before they even know that they need it! Groups not only help prepare people before they get into a sticky situation, but normalize the common struggles that OCD can present.
The Benefits of an OCD Support Group: Accountability:
Being in an OCD support group can provide a unique sense of accountability. Group therapy is designed as a non-judgmental setting, and being around others who struggle with similar thought and behavior patterns makes it easier to feel comfortable taking suggestions and learning ways to manage their OCD more effectively. Seeing other people with OCD not only struggle, but succeed can be powerful. Again, being in individual therapy is important as well, but the accountability felt in group therapy can be more motivating and easy to receive, as individuals receive insight and feedback from a peer rather than a person in authority (ie a therapist).
The Benefits of an OCD group: Being able to relate to others:
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of a support group is the feeling of not being alone. When someone hears another person sharing a similar story to their own struggle with OCD, they will often feel validated and understood. When living among family, friends, and partners who don’t have the same experience of OCD, it can be important to hear from others who struggle with the same pervasive thought patterns that often cause so much suffering. There is power in hearing others’ stories that can increase feelings of self-compassion necessary to manage OCD.
OCD group at The Center for Growth
The Center for Growth is proud to offer an OCD support group for individuals over the age of 18. The group is run by 1-2 Clinicians at The Center for Growth with specialties in OCD and group dynamics. The group includes a time for check-in about the past few weeks, and a time for individuals to share about their current struggles or successes in managing their OCD. Group members are encouraged to share their experiences with one another in order for the relationships within the group to strengthen.
In addition, the group offers psychosocial education about OCD, so individuals can learn how to navigate the unique challenges of living with OCD. Most importantly, however, is the group atmosphere where individuals living with OCD know they are not alone in their struggle.
The Benefits of an OCD Support Group: Conclusion:
To be sure, there are important reasons to attend both individual and group therapy in order for an individual to manage their OCD most effectively. Each has their own benefits, and in order to get the full range of support, doing both is often recommended. That being said, it is important to understand the unique function OCD support groups offer within the spectrum of OCD treatment.
Do you want to join the OCD support group, or talk more with a therapist about whether or not an OCD diagnosis might be the right fit for you? Call 215-922-5683 to talk with an OCD Therapist today. We offer therapy in Philadelphia, PA, Ocean City, NJ, Richmond, VA, and Santa Fe, NM. We also offer virtual therapy in Georgia and Florida.