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Light On Anxiety Expert Perspectives: LOA in the News

Good News About Harm OCD

By Debra Kissen

Harm OCD: Tips & Resources to Help Move You Past Intrusive Thought OCD

Debra Kissen, Ph.D, M.H.S.A
Ashley Kendall, Ph.D
Michelle Lozano, AMFT 

Download Harm OCD eBook (Sections 1-24)

Section 1
Section 2

Good News About Harm OCD

The good news— yes, there is good news when it comes to OCD— is that it can be effectively treated. Many research studies have highlighted that OCD symptoms can be reduced to non-symptomatic levels by engaging in Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) based treatment.

OCD was once thought to be one of the most serious and severe of mental health disorders and unresponsive to treatment (Kobak 2004). However ERP has been documented to be effective in treatment for OCD for over five decades (Kobak 2004).

Foa and Kozak’s 1996 review of 12 outcome studies reported treatment responder rates of 83 among people who completed treatment. In 16 studies reporting long term outcomes, 76 percent were able to maintain their treatment gains over time. In addition to ERP, for harm OCD in particular, it is important to address the cognitive aspects of the disorder, for example thinking errors that lead one to believe a harm thought is equivalent to a harm behavior.

This eBook offers a clinical intervention program based on the principles of ERP for OCD. As you move through this eBook you will learn a good deal more about ERP but for now, the main take away message for you is there is reason to feel hopeful. In other words, your situation is NOT hopeless. You will not always feel this bad. The discomfort you are experiencing is temporary. You are and will be OK!


It is helpful to fill out a pre-intervention assessment so you will be able to quantify the frequency and intensity of your symptoms and observe over time, as you put in the work in freeing yourself from, how these symptoms decrease. There will be a day when an intrusive thought will surface. You may be tempted to tell yourself, “See, I am still having these horrible thoughts. Nothing ever changes. I will always be stuck.” The hope is that you will then be able to do a quick assessment and review where you are, and how far you’ve come.

In the past week, on average:

How many hours a day do you think about your intrusive thoughts?
How much distress do you experience when a harm IT surfaces?
How much impairment does harm OCD cause in your life/how much does it impact your ability to engage effectively in your life?

Please think across all spheres such as:

  • Family life:
  • Friendships:
  • Career:
  • Leisure:
  • Spirituality:
  • Self care:
  • Other:

How hard are you currently trying to avoid or fight or make sense of your Harm related thoughts?

How hard are you currently trying to engage in valued living and putting your attention on the aspects of life that aremost important to you?

This eBook is an appropriate first step for those experiencing mild to moderate distress and discomfort. For those experiencing severe impairment, we recommend that the reader seek professional assistance as these symptoms are impacting functioning and creating a high level of distress and one should not have to face that level of suffering alone, without professionally trained assistance.

In addition, if the reader is experiencing active suicidal thoughts or abusing substances, etc, then we recommend seeking out professional assistance immediately.

Go next to Section 3.
Go back to Section 1.

Dr. Debra Kissen is CEO of Light On Anxiety CBT Treatment Center. Dr. Kissen specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)...

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