The involvement of family and/or friends is often a very important part of the treatment process. Empowering family and friends with the necessary knowledge and skills for helping their loved ones can be crucial to treatment success.
Parent Involvement In Therapy
Parents are always involved in their child or adolescent’s treatment. Generally a portion of every session will be spent with one or both parents, particularly with younger children. It is important for parents to understand the most effective ways to respond to their child’s symptoms. Parents will also be responsible for helping their child stay consistent with the treatment plan and for giving progress reports on a regular basis. It is generally most helpful if all regular caregivers are familiar with the child’s treatment plan and understand their specific roles.
Empowering Family and Friends as Co-Therapists
It is generally very helpful to enlist the help of a trusted family member or friend to act as a co-therapist. This person will be educated on the most effective ways to respond to their loved one’s symptoms and help keep him/her consistent with the treatment plan. The co-therapist should have regular interaction with their loved one, ideally living in the same home. It may be useful to enlist the help of multiple co-therapists especially if symptoms are occurring in various environments outside the home.
Helping A Loved One Who Is Resistant To Treatment
Generally, the younger the individual, the easier it is to convince him/her to accept help. If you are the parent of a younger child, it is likely that speaking to your child about your concern over his/her worries in a caring manner and providing assurance that there are people who can help, will be enough to convince your child to see a therapist. Watching The Worry Wizard video or reading a children’s book on anxiety or OCD may help as well.
Older children, adolescents, and adult children who adamantly refuse to see a professional may require a firmer approach. If explaining your concerns does not convince your child to accept some help, the next step would be to identify the ways you may be contributing to or accommodating your child’s OCD (e.g. performing certain rituals yourself, providing reassurance, allowing your child to avoid things that trigger anxiety, etc.).
Once you have identified any enabling behaviors, you would then want to discuss, in a caring manner, why you are no longer comfortable continuing with these behaviors as they are very likely making the problem worse. As a result, the choice for your child becomes either to enlist the help of a therapist, who can work collaboratively with everyone to figure out what the next steps should be, or to accept these accommodations being more abruptly stripped away. Hopefully, accepting help from a professional becomes the better choice from your child’s perspective as it will ultimately give him/her more control over the treatment process.
Getting friends or significant others who are resistant into therapy may prove much more difficult, particularly if that person is not dependent on you in any way. Again, taking a bit of a tough love approach and discontinuing any enabling behaviors may help to motivate your loved one to accept help.
If this is not possible or effective, other possible strategies may include trying to convince your loved one to learn more about treatment by researching reliable sources of information (Click here for resources ) or speaking to a professional directly before making a commitment to start treatment. If your loved one is suffering from more mild to moderate OCD and is willing to begin a self-help program, Live OCD Free may be an effective tool to recommend.
For more severe cases, especially those where your loved one may have difficulty leaving his/her home, discussing the possibility of home-based therapy or therapy conducted via phone or video conferencing may be helpful as well. Finally, as a last resort, planning an intervention with other friends and family as well as a professional present may help in certain situations. For more information on planned interventions, please contact our office.