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OCD Awareness

Eraser deleting the concept Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD.We recently commemorated International Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Awareness Week. It is a week dedicated to increasing understanding and awareness about obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and related disorders, while breaking the fallacy that a person with OCD engages in these behaviors simply because they like them. OCD affects children, adolescents, and adults.

A common misconception about OCD is that it means being overly neat, tidy, or organized. OCD is actually a debilitating disorder characterized by obsessions, compulsions, or both. So what is the difference between an obsession and a compulsion?

  • Obsessions are unwanted, recurrent, and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that cause a person anxiety or distress. Examples of obsessions include contamination or losing control.
  • Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that a person feels compelled to perform in response to an obsession. Examples of compulsions include hand washing, ordering, counting and checking.

The purpose of compulsions is to reduce or prevent anxiety, distress, or a dreaded event or situation. Both obsessions and compulsions are often time-consuming and can cause significant difficulty in social and romantic relationships, occupational or academic pursuits, as well as other areas of a person’s life. However, if you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, highly effective treatment options are available.

At The Family Institute, the clinicians on the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Team specialize in treating OCD. Both individual and group therapy are offered. Currently, one of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy groups, The Anxiety Network, offers young adults a place to seek both peer and professional support in a group setting. The group also offers education on OCD and other anxiety related topics. For more information, email

Kelly Dunn, MA, LPC, is a clinical program fellow at The Family Institute, specializing in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and exposure therapies (ERP) to treat adolescents and adults who struggle with anxiety disorders (such as panic disorder, social phobia, generalized anxiety and others), obsessive-compulsive disorders, and depression.

The Family Institute offers affordable therapy and assessment services at our Evanston, downtown Chicago, Westchester and Northbrook locations. Visit our website to learn more.

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