technology meets OCD therapy
For the past 7 years I’ve experienced and suffered with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on an on-and-off basis. It’s come and gone in various strengths, flaring up at times of heightened stress and anxiety (mostly during exam periods or stressful situations). I’ll link here to a previous post I wrote up on my own experience with OCD to give a bit more detail into what suffering with the disorder actually feels like.
Last spring I began a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that worked well for my form of OCD and aided me a huge deal in managing to battle my obsessions and compulsions. That said, it took me years to reach the point of being put in contact with a therapist, and the course itself was not easy. A big part of the issue I found was the weekly basis of the appointments and the detachment I had with my therapist once the hour session was over. OCD is a very personal, unique experience to each person who suffers with it, triggered by different scenarios and situations, and manifested in a huge array of behaviours, thought processes and actions. By the time my weekly session came around, my weekly dealings with my anxieties had often been pushed to the back of my mind and thus reporting back to my therapist accurately was difficult.
This is where ‘nOCD’ comes into it. nOCD is a totally free app that was launched last year by OCD sufferers themselves: it aims to bridge the gap between those patients suffering with OCD and mental health practitioners. It does so by incorporating clinically proven techniques to treat OCD sufferers, such as CBT and ERP exercises, and aims to revolutionise the way such treatments are delivered to sufferers through a smart phone device.
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a vital component of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), the form of therapy I received. At the crux of the treatment is the idea of exposing yourself to thoughts, images or situations that trigger your obsessions, whilst response prevention sees the patient attempt to not respond in a compulsive way. Initially this is led by a therapist before the patient gains the confidence to begin to practise this in daily life.
Key to nOCD is the fact that it allows an OCD sufferer to not only discreetly and consistently log their episodes of anxieties, but it sets the sufferer a daily, structured ERP plan. Anyone who has had CBT will know that ‘homework’ is integral to success from the sessions – for the therapy to work well you need to be engaged and consistent with the work and tasks set to you by your therapist. This was something I struggled to do alongside my university degree, and exactly where I can see nOCD’s selling point. Now at the tip of your fingers is an interactive and engaging platform to aid and encourage maintaining a positive focus on managing your anxieties and the obsessions and compulsions triggered from them. Beyond this, the app collects all data you put into it to enhance the success of the app in the future, and allows you to track your experiences to take and show to your therapist if you are receiving treatment.
Below is a brief video that summarises the key points of nOCD…
I’ve been in touch with the amazing bunch of people working at and shaping nOCD, and they have provided me with an app store link for anyone reading this who feels they may benefit from using the app. As mentioned, it has been made and launched as a free download to make mental health therapy more accessible for all.
One of the first things I learnt was that the longer OCD patterns of behaviour become engrained in one’s daily routine, the harder it is to break them. OCD is often referred to as a quirky, trivial trait. In reality it can be mentally debilitating, affecting every moment of someone’s day and leading to depression among other things. If you believe you may be suffering from OCD, please seek medical help first and foremost.
Here is the link to the app store. If you use the app, get in touch with me in the comments or on my Twitter or Instagram and let me know how your experience with it goes. Best of luck!