How Social Workers Help with OCD

July 14, 2005 at 2:42 pm  •  Posted in Obsessions And Compulsions by  •  0 Comments

By William Shryer, MSW, LCSW


Clearly one of the most misunderstood disorders in the field of neuroscience is the diagnosis of “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.” It occurs from early childhood all the way throughout the life span.


It is actually a spectrum of disorders generally seen when one cannot get a particular thought out of their conscience mind. They may think they are contaminated, that something horrible will befall someone they love. They may think that they may utter something blasphemous. They may feel convinced that there is something about their body that is misshapen or looks ugly. They may look endlessly in mirrors and ask others of they notice the defect. They may avoid going out, certain that others will notice their defect. The public is generally unaware of the suffering that so many go through dealing with their “stuck thinking.”

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder has more symptoms than just about any other diagnosis. From the better known symptoms such as those seen in the movie, “As Good as it Gets” with Jack Nicholson, where hand washing and certain rituals were present, to the lesser known symptoms such as “hoarding”, stuck thoughts, and many believe that even anorexia may be a symptom on this wide and unusual spectrum. Clearly one of the most disturbing for some is the, “distress of perceived ugliness,” known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD, as it is known, occurs frequently with other disorders, making it even more difficult to understand. Those with Tourette ‘s syndrome- the disorder with involuntary motor movements and sometimes involuntary vocal sounds- have three times the likelihood of having OCD than the general population. Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders (such as Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome) also have a greatly increased likelihood of having symptoms consistent with OCD. For too many years, the shame and embarrassment of this category kept many from seeking and receiving treatment. The good news is that available treatments including the use of newer classes of medications, and “Cognitive Behavior Therapy,” have greatly increased the likelihood that significant improvement can be made.

The Obsessive Brain

OCD is not a mental disorder; it is a genetically transmitted brain disorder that responds to several types of treatment. No longer should people with these symptoms that cause terrible anxiety, phobias, panic and drastically altered lives have to hide when responsible treatment is readily available. If you or your loved ones seem to have an “obsessive brain,” you should urge them to seek professional assistance.

How Social Workers Can Help

Often individuals with behavioral disorders are treated by General Practitioners  or Pediatricians  who lack the expertise and experience to properly diagnose and treat behavioral disorders. If you suspect that you or a loved one is affected by “stuck thoughts,” or an “obsessive brain” you should contact a qualified behavioral healthcare professional who who is highly trained and specializes in this area.

Social Workers are among this group of behavioral healthcare individuals that the public is generally unaware of. The field needs to vigorously work on educating and enlightening the public as to the many and varied roles that social workers play. Clinics around the country have well trained Social Workers on staff to assist patients with these types of difficulties.

To learn more about behavioral disorders, visit


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Association of Social Workers or its members.

Leave a Reply