Helping People Cope With OCD
Information for Clergy

Counseling The Person Who Has OCD

It’s not unusual for people to wait until they have exhausted all “logical” courses of action before they turn to God or their religious leader for help.  Some people have lived with the disturbing fears and worries of OCD for years—perhaps their entire lifetimes.  Parents and family members may wait until they think they have tried everything to help a loved one cope with OCD and are at their wits’ end before they approach you to talk about their problem.

Because members of your church or religious organization look up to you, you are in a unique position to tell them that they don’t have to suffer in silence—that God doesn’t intend for them to suffer endlessly with the heartbreak of OCD.  You can also assure them that they are not alone and that there is real help available to them.

If the type of OCD being discussed is Scrupulosity, you can help people understand that with proper treatment they can separate their faith and devotion to their religious principles from the unwanted and distressing obsessions and compulsions of OCD.  They can still be devout and productive members of the congregation, but rid themselves of OCD.

No one should expect you to actually treat OCD.  You may want to contact a cognitive behavior therapist who has treated OCD and Scrupulosity to determine if they would be willing to meet with the OCD sufferer and you to begin the journey of explaining about and encouraging treatment.

Counseling the Family Affected By OCD

Sometimes families or friends become so involved in helping the OCD sufferer perform their compulsive rituals or avoid places or people that trigger obsessive fears that they make it easier for OCD to keep its grip on their loved one.  They think they are helping their loved one, or just don’t know what else to do to keep peace in the household.

When families accommodate OCD by helping perform compulsive rituals or contributing to avoidance behavior, they actually reinforce the obsessive fears and worries, making the disorder stronger.

You can learn about the role of family and friends in fighting OCD—and how they can stop accommodating OCD in the home—in the Friends and Family section of this web site.

Go to Friends and Family section

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