As more and more individuals across the globe have been able to access virtual therapy, we have learned a great deal about its benefits for clients. These have included: enhanced flexibility, increased accessibility and limitless creativity.
I want to talk about the idea of limitless creativity today. When providing therapy for individuals with anxiety and OCD, clinicians always want to expose their clients to a range of triggers that increase anxiety and distress. OCD can latch on to many different areas of one’s life, including religiosity, perfectionism, cleanliness and orderliness as well as relationships with children and family members.
Therefore, when doing exposure and response prevention work (ERP), clients will want to expose themselves to a large variety of items (and practice ritual prevention of course!). Exposure work can therefore include working with items that are thought to be contaminated, such as doorknobs, toilets and grocery carts. It may also include exposure to places that are avoided for moral or religious OCD reasons, such as churches or other places of worship. Individuals might want to be exposed to parks and playgrounds if they experience intrusive thoughts about children or they might want to practice sitting close to family members or hugging them if they experience distressing sexual intrusive thoughts in their presence.
How does one accomplish exposure work with such a long and varied list of items within the context of a brick and mortar clinician’s office? Put simply – you don’t! However, virtual therapy has afforded clinicians the golden opportunity to work with a client anywhere and everywhere with absolutely no limits! We can visit the Vatican in Rome and look at triggering naked statues and bring on intrusive thoughts. Your therapist will coach you through not doing any mental review as you walk through the virtual halls of the museum. Or we can have you take your phone and earbuds with you and walk through your house or into a store and interact with any imaginable contaminated item and coach you through typical hand washing and cross contaminating other items.
We can also bring in family members – easily – to sessions and coach them through challenging exposures – teaching everyone valuable coaching skills as we go.
The possibilities are endless. Virtual therapy literally has no limits. That is why virtual therapy has been one of the best things that has happened to exposure work for clients with OCD and anxiety. Your therapist can travel with you to places that no one would have been able to visit in the past and be there to coach you through the most challenging of exposures. This allows for your life practice in between sessions to be that much more effective.
If you are considering doing in person therapy for OCD or anxiety, take a pause and think about all your triggers and all the different places that you need to really work on these exposures. And then consider virtual therapy and all the places your therapist can go with you – easily and in the most accessible way possible. And we will bring with it a creativity and enthusiasm that will allow the most difficult thoughts to become manageable as we work together.
Forward Thinking Psychological Services wants to take this opportunity to announce their therapy services have become even more accessible. We are now offering services remotely not only in Ontario but throughout British Columbia. Reach out to us today and find the help you are looking for – right from the place where you are experiencing the MOST anxiety!