On many occasions the relatives of a person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are totally disoriented on how to act to help the affected person. The family may or may not understand the problem and so that conflicts do not arise, they all end up living with "the rules of OCD." How can a family member with OCD help?
How can you help a family member with OCD?
To help a family member with OCD, the first of all is to become familiar with the problem, understand it and document it well.
Secondly, it is essential to encourage the affected person to seek help and professional advice. There are specialists for the treatment of this disorder. Thus, it is important to treat it because it can become a very serious and very disabling disorder.
Guidelines that will help the patient during treatment
Once the person begins treatment, family members must be clear about a series of guidelines that will help the therapy succeed.
First of all, it is very important not get involved in the rituals. Many times the family member, to try to reassure the person suffering from OCD, actively participates in the rituals. For example, answering again and again the same "reassuring" questions: -Are you sure that I have closed the gas key well, have you seen me close it? Could you assure me 100%? Or in the case of an obsessive compulsive pollution disorder, the couple, for example, can yield to take off all their clothes when entering the house so as not to "contaminate" the house.
The family has to understand that this is not helping the affected person, but is contributing to creating a difficult loop to break. The familiars they have to gradually withdraw from the rules of the TOC and not cooperate in such rituals. This is sometimes not so easy because many conflicts can arise, that is why the participation of the psychologist is so important.
Help family member with OCD: the role of the family
Active participation in therapy is highly recommended. Occasionally, the psychologist may establish a "behavioral contract" between the patient and the family. This is about establishing realistic goals and an action plan to limit or change behaviors.
For example, in the case of a teenager with a contagion TOC, you can agree with the parents who accompany you to the street to expose yourself to the feared situation. The teenager can commit to wash their hands only once, when they get home. It can be agreed that, in case of anxiety on the part of the adolescent, the parents respond once only to reassure him by telling him that, in reality, his clothes are not contaminated.
Once the first objective is reached, you have to reinforce the person positively. It is essential that both the affected person and family members agree with the rules of the contract. Little by little, the behavioral objectives will increase.
The family has to keep in mind that every day they are not equally suitable. There may be days when the patient is worse or has more anxiety and you have to try to be a little flexible. If anger or resentment is shown, it can cause the affected person to have more anxiety and therefore increase their compulsive behavior.
All these guidelines will be marked by the psychologist throughout the therapy. It has been shown that the active collaboration of family members in the treatment, plays a fundamental role.
Silvia García Graullera