When our belief that our son was suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was confirmed by his doctor, the first step that we took was to locate a therapist that specialized in Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy. ERP is the #1 recommended therapy for combatting OCD. While I would recommend seeing a therapist to help your child, doing the therapy at home is necessary for your child to overcome their rituals. Having the right exposure and response prevention therapy tools can make the at-home therapy for OCD more successful.
If you’re not familiar with ERP therapy, you start with the easiest compulsion for your child to battle, and have your child face that obsessive thought and perform the activity without giving into the compulsion. The point of therapy is to show that child that they can overcome the anxiety of their obsessive thoughts without giving into the compulsion.
With my son, his obsessions are what is referred to as symmetry urges, needing objects lined up or body movements or things on the body to be done the same way until it feels “right”. His compulsions have him line things up and do things over and over again until it feels “right”. One of the things that we work on is putting on his shoes. They have to be lined up against the wall when he takes them off and has to be lined up against the wall when he puts them on. Just this morning I put his shoes in front of him, not lined up, which caused him a lot of anxiety.
Some things to remember when you are helping your child with overcoming their OCD.
- It is HARD. It’s hard for you, it’s hard for siblings, but it is especially hard for your child. Your child is going to fight you on doing the therapy. It is easier for them to give in to the compulsions than to fight them. It is going to cause A LOT of anxiety.
- It is going to take time. I’m going to be 100% honest and let you know that we are still struggling. It is something that he refuses to do at times. He fights one compulsion and a new one develops.
- Don’t give in to the compulsions. My son often asks me to help him do things because his OCD will bother him. We aren’t at a point yet where I can’t help him. But if he starts to give into his compulsions, I remind him that I am here to help him but that I don’t do OCD stuff with him. If he won’t listen and keeps doing the compulsions, then I walk away.
- Ask for help. Find a good therapist. Find someone that can help you. You are going to need it. And I recommend that you find a professional in the ERP field to help you get started with your at home therapy.
- Get all of the necessary exposure and response prevention therapy tools you need to make your at-home therapy as successful as it can be.
There are strategies that my son’s therapist had us use to get us started in ERP therapy. We started with role-playing. Drawing a picture of my son’s perception of what his OCD looked like. Making a list of obsessive thoughts and compulsions, and labeling those as easy to fight or hard to fight. We came up with a reward system for when my son did his therapy. While this all sounds easy, it was not.
The two hardest parts of therapy for my son was role-playing and labeling obsessive thoughts/compulsions as easy or hard. So in order to make his at-home therapy more successful, I created kid-friendly and easy to use tools to help with exposure and response prevention therapy.
Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy Tools for OCD:
- Role-Playing Game
When I tried the therapist’s suggested technique of role-playing, my son would get angry. He refused to do the role-playing. Instead of showing him how to talk back to his OCD, he just screamed at me to leave him alone and to stop acting like his OCD. Therefore, together, he and I developed the game Beat Buster. It is a game that allows you and your child to list out their compulsions and teaches them how to tell their OCD “no”. It is fun and completely customizable. And the best part is that it is designed so that your child wins, teaching them that if they boss back their OCD, they can beat it.
- OCD Behavior Tracking Guide
The other hard part for my child was listing his obsessive thoughts and compulsions and labeling them as easy or hard to fight. In order to help him and myself recognize what his compulsions were and how much they affected him, I developed this OCD Behavior Tracking guide. It is best to keep it posted somewhere you can access it easily each day. When you see your child participating in OCD behavior, record it on this behavior tracking guide. It records what happened before the behavior, the behavior, the duration, the anxiety levels at the time of the behavior and the anxiety levels when the compulsions end. This will help you determine what the thoughts and compulsions are and how easy or hard it will be for your child to fight them. I keep all of our OCD Behavior Tracking guides in a 3-ring binder and share them with his doctor and therapist on a regular basis.
- Reward System
Our therapist gave us a reward system that we could use when my son did his ERP therapy at home. The problem with what we were given was that it was too broad. It ranged from 10-100 points. Since my son also has ADHD, which is common for kids with OCD, impulsivity played a huge part in the unsuccessfulness of rewarding his therapy. Instead, we now use a simple reward system. The rewards are limited and the points he has to earn in order to receive a reward are a lot less. The point is, keep it to one reward per level of points and keep the point value low if your child is impulsive like mine. When I was using the 10-100 point reward chart, he never seemed to get to a reward before getting angry and refusing to do therapy.
As I mentioned earlier, Exposure and Response Prevention therapy will be hard for both you and your child. It will take time. But it is also the #1 recommended therapy to teach those that suffer from OCD how to fight back their OCD and take control of their lives. With the right guidance and exposure and response prevention therapy tools, it can be easier for both you and your child.
For the month of August, I will be offering the OCD Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy Tools Bundle at more than a 50% discount. That is only $3.00 to help get your child started in fighting back their OCD. You will get a copy of the Beat Buster Role-Playing game, OCD Behavior Tracking Guide, and ERP Therapy Reward Chart. All you’ll have to do is customize, print and get started on taking back your child’s life.
To receive the discount and free customizable tools, please use discount code: AUGUST. Get started on fighting back OCD TODAY!