Interoceptive Exposure in OCD Treatment

August 7, 2017

Brian Thompson Ph.D.

Interoceptive exposure (IE) involves using exercises (e.g., hyperventilation) to deliberately evoke feared bodily sensations (e.g., shortness of breath; tightness in chest). It is most commonly associated with panic disorder treatment. In a recent paper, anxiety disorders expert and UNC professor Dr. Jonathan Abramowitz and his grad student Shannon Blakely make a case for its use in OCD treatment. Anxiety Sensitivity as a Transdiagnostic Process At the 2016 International OCD Foundation Conference, I attended a workshop by the authors on this topic. They talked about anxiety sensitivity. Anxiety sensitivity refers to proneness towards interpreting physical symptoms of anxiety (e.g., increased heart rate) as signs of something dangerous (e.g., heart attack). People with anxiety sensitivity may assume that their anxiety is a Read more

SUDS vs. Willingness: Values-Based ACT Exposure for OCD

July 17, 2017

Brian Thompson Ph.D.

Throughout the years, I’ve written a series of blogs posts on exposure therapy, including the use of exposure therapy in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. In the absence of much guidance on using exposure in ACT, I co-authored a theoretical paper on its use in treating PTSD. Recently I read an excellent paper outlining the use of ACT and exposure for OCD. Exposure therapy for OCD from an acceptance and commitment therapy framework The article is a collaboration of 2 major research labs: Utah State professor Michael Twohig, a pioneer in the use ACT for OCD, and Jonathan Abramowitz, a professor at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and an incredibly prolific researcher in the field of anxiety. The Read more

A common figure for the dropout rate of exposure and response prevention (ERP) for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder is about 25%.  During one OCD workshop I attended, 2 different presenters insinuated that these high rates of dropout were the result of one particularly overzealous researcher who pushed clients too hard! They suggested that, anecdotally, most people with OCD can tolerate exposure-work reasonably well. A recent study from Utah State professor Michael Twohig’s lab decided to take a closer look at this. Meta-Analysis The researchers collected 21 studies of ERP for OCD and conducted a meta-analysis of dropout rates. In a meta-analysis, researchers try to compute variables in order to compare results across multiple studies with different methodologies. The researchers looked Read more

Resources for self- and other-care in difficult times

November 24, 2016

Portland Psychotherapy Team

Many of us have been impacted by the election results.  Whether you are feeling shock, fear, anger, sadness, confusion, disbelief, or excitement, joy, satisfaction or hope, you are likely not alone. If you have been struggling, some of these resources might be helpful (thanks to Jennifer Villatte for sharing this list).  I prefaced each with a quote that spoke to me.  I also noticed the urge to provide a more in depth review of each, but eventually decided to practice self-care by calling it good.  I hope you find something you might be seeking. Resources for Self-Care in the Face of Social Injustice and Marginalization “When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and Read more

To those who feel afraid or hurt after the election

November 15, 2016

Jason Luoma, Ph.D.

For many of us, these are frightening and uncertain times. We at Portland Psychotherapy want to make a declaration of support to the millions of people around the nation and here in Portland that have been targeted, oppressed, attacked, or silenced and to those who feel fearful of what may come.  Portland Psychotherapy does not endorse discrimination in any form and is invested in ensuring the safety of all members of our community. If you feel marginalized, oppressed, angered, hurt, afraid, ashamed, or stigmatized, we want you to know you are welcome here.  You are all part of the community we love and serve. This is a safe place for you to speak and to be heard. We value you. The Staff of Portland Psychotherapy