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4 Ways to Improve Motivation in Therapy

Going to therapy can be hard, and doing what is necessary in therapy to get better can be even harder. Whether it is facing your biggest fear or stopping a compulsion, we want to help you. So, here are some suggestions that you can do to better fight your OCD:


  1. Focus on your reasons for therapy. Think about why you sought treatment to begin with. How will therapy enhance your life? What are the reasons you are in therapy? Do you feel distressed? How has OCD impacted your life? How has it impacted your relationships? Are you able to complete everything you need/want to given your OCD? It can be hard to remember why you are in therapy when things are going well or you are having a “good day,” so it helps to write out your reasons and review it periodically, especially when you start to doubt why you are in therapy.

  2. Think about how your life would be better if you did not have OCD. What would you do? How would you live your life? How would it impact your relationships or your job? If you could make your OCD disappear what would your life look like? Remember, the point of therapy is to accomplish a goal. Always keep that goal in mind.

  3. Remind yourself that you can do it. We often tell ourselves, explicitly or implicity, that we cannot accomplish something: “I can’t pick up the phone until it sounds just right;” “I have to wash my hands at least three times to make sure I don’t get sick;” “I shouldn’t be trusted with a knife, not even to cut my food!” The truth of the matter is that we can do it. It may not feel like it in the moment, but that’s because we have not given ourselves an opportunity to teach ourselves that we can do it. We often surprise ourselves with how much we can accomplish. Think about a time where you had a similar thought, but in fact you were able to do it. Sure, it may have been very hard, but that didn’t mean you couldn’t do it. In fact, it was really hard, and you still did it.

  4. Think about the steps you could take to reach your goal and make a comprehensive and specific list. Think about what you could reasonably do today or tomorrow. Maybe to reach the goal of not checking the stove is turned off five times you cut it back to four times. You will not be able to check everything off your list in one day when you are first starting, but that is okay. Instead, focus on what you can do and try to push yourself a little bit. And once you accomplish your goal, such as checking the stove less often, reward yourself! You deserve it! As the Chinese proverb goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”


These steps for motivation are not specific to OCD, but can be helpful for any issue. Try these steps out and see if you notice a difference in treatment.


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