compulsive behaviours

compulsive behaviours

Compulsive behaviours are repetitive, uncontrollable, ritualized behaviours that some people feel compelled to perform, even if they aren't pleasurable or make sense. Frequently, people with compulsive behaviour disorders recognize that these behaviours are irrational or unpleasant but are unable to stop performing them. These behaviours may be accompanied by intrusive and unwanted repetitive thoughts as well. Oftentimes, these behaviours will briefly alleviate anxiety, just to have the cycle start all over again. Sometimes people with compulsive behaviours can feel hopeless, like they will never be able to stop their actions. Others may turn to drugs or alcohol to alleviate some of the anxiety or shame around their actions. Sometimes people who engage in compulsive behaviours feel alone or ashamed, like they're the only ones with this problem. Compulsive thoughts and behaviours are relatively common and can be well managed and even eliminated. There are lots of ways to help, and people can absolutely learn to control intrusive thoughts and cease unwanted behaviours.

At Rivers Edge Counselling Centre we have a team of dedicated therapists who can help to identify, manage and alleviate the anxiety associated with this upsetting and sometimes all-consuming disorder.

Common types of compulsive behaviours:

  • Excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches

  • Repeatedly checking in on loved ones to make sure they’re safe

  • Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety

  • Spending a lot of time washing or cleaning

  • Ordering or arranging things “just so”

  • Praying excessively or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear

  • Accumulating “junk” such as old newspapers or empty food containers, also known as “hoarding”Addiction Counselling Can Help Loved Ones:

Common types of intrusive thoughts:

  • Fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt or contaminating others

  • Fear of losing control and harming yourself or others

  • Intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images

  • Excessive focus on religious or moral ideas

  • Fear of losing or not having things you might need

  • Order and symmetry: the idea that everything must line up “just right”

  • Superstitions; excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky 

While there is no definitive test for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, this screening tool may be useful to determine if you have some of the symptoms. Be sure to discuss your results of this screener with one of our therapists. 

Compulsive behaviour counselling can help to:

  • Identify and understand the ritualized behaviours and/or intrusive thoughts

  • Learn to resist the urges to perform the behaviours or think the thoughts

  • Anticipate and combat triggers for urges

  • Challenge obsessive thoughts and eliminate them

  • Make lifestyle changes to help resist lapses and maintain progress

  • Set up a support system to aid in the struggle

Other Helpful Resources

Note: Information provided is not diagnostic or a substitute for professional advice.

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