OCD And Trauma

OCD And Trauma

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can have a negative impact on a person’s emotional well-being and ability to function effectively. It can be especially difficult to manage when OCD develops as a result of trauma. There is a link between trauma and OCD. It can be hard to treat when symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also occur. It is important to also address symptoms of PTSD, when a traumatic experience leads to OCD.

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a mental health disorder characterized by both obsessive thoughts or sensations and compulsive actions. Those experiencing OCD have distressing thoughts that cause them to engage in repetitive behaviors to decrease anxiety related to obsessions. Although anyone can experience distressing thoughts at times, those with OCD have persistent thoughts requiring strict behaviors to manage them. If they are unable to perform these behaviors, they become very distressed. The repetitive behaviors are very time consuming, taking up at least an hour of their day. OCD can cause significant impairment in functioning in one or more areas of life.


Although many with OCD recognize that their obsessions are unrealistic, it’s not enough to stop them from engaging in compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts, sensations, images, or ideas that lead to fear, anger, disgust, and other distressing emotions. Fears related to something happening to a loved one, images of a distressing event, or thoughts of harming a child can cause a great deal of anxiety. In fact, the obsessions can become overwhelming.


In order to relieve the overwhelming anxiety, a ritual must be performed. Compulsions are behaviors that a person feels compelled to do in order to alleviate the anxiety created by the obsession. These compulsions can be related to the obsession, or completely unrelated. Compulsions such as repeatedly checking things, constantly washing hands or cleaning, or repetitively counting to a certain number, can significantly interfere with a person’s quality of life.

OCD And Trauma

Trauma refers to any distressing event that overwhelms someone’s capacity to cope effectively. While not everyone that experiences trauma will develop OCD, research shows a link between trauma and OCD, especially childhood trauma. This can include a single event, like being the victim of a violent crime, or more complex trauma, such as repeated sexual abuse. Childhood trauma can lead to obsessive thoughts and compulsions and a diagnosis of OCD.


Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and OCD can co-occur at a very high rate. This has caused some to suggest that these disorders are on the same continuum. The obsessive thoughts associated with both can lead to hypervigilance and compulsive behaviors. These behaviors are to help manage the thoughts, flashbacks, and anxiety common in these disorders. For instance, if someone was involved in a house fire, it would be normal for them to want to check their home for possible fire hazards for a period of time afterwards. However, if this behavior continues after several months, becomes compulsive and interferes with their ability to leave the house, or fall asleep, they may have developed PTSD and OCD. 


Treatments for PTSD include trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), brainspotting, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). In TF-CBT you learn about the trauma and create a narrative to process the trauma. While doing this, you use techniques to help calm down the central nervous system. EMDR and brainspotting enable you to access stored traumatic memories. Accessing these memories enables you to reprocess them through the use of certain tools and bilateral stimulation. The most common treatment for OCD is exposure and response therapy. In this therapy, you are exposed to the stimulus that causes anxiety without being able to engage in the compulsions. It is important to treat both PTSD and OCD. Treating only one can lead to an increase of symptoms in the other.

If you have experienced a trauma and are having symptoms of both PTSD and OCD, individual counseling can help. Make sure whoever you work with has experience treating both disorders. With proper help, you can learn to manage the symptoms of trauma related OCD and PTSD. Then they will no longer have a negative impact on your emotional well-being.

6 Tips To Stop Being A People-Pleaser

6 Tips To Stop Being A People-Pleaser

Although being a people-pleaser might not seem like a bad thing, it can actually cause a lot of problems. People-pleasers like to feel needed, but can easily end up feeling used and taken advantage of. If you are a people-pleaser, you most likely neglect your own needs in order to meet the needs of others, no matter the cost. People-pleasing can cause both physical and mental health issues. In order to protect your health, you need to stop being a people-pleaser. Below are 6 tips to help you stop being a people-pleaser.

What Is A People-Pleaser

A people-pleaser is someone who has a need to please others. They often do things for others at the expense of their own needs. People-pleasers are very kind and helpful and they are always willing to lend a hand. However, they can feel as though they have to do everything that is asked of them in order to be loved and accepted. They can have a hard time saying no. People-pleasers do not like anyone being angry with them and try to avoid conflict at all costs. They feel responsible for the emotions of others and tend to over apologize. They may anticipate and try to meet the needs of someone before being asked. People-pleasers can believe it is their responsibility to make other people happy.

Why Is Being A People-Pleaser A Problem

People-pleasers can be so busy taking care of everyone else, that they forget to take care of themselves. They can identify so strongly with caregiving and agreeing with others that they can lose sight of their own needs, values, and beliefs. Their kindness, willingness to help, and difficulty saying no, can lead to other people taking advantage of them. People-pleasers can become overworked and overburdened, which can lead to them harboring resentment towards those they are helping. The desire to avoid conflict can cause them to accept bad behavior from others. Putting aside their own needs can cause them to believe their needs aren’t important. If you identify with the above, there are things you can do to stop being a people-pleaser.

1. Learn To Say No

People-pleasers have trouble saying no. When you always say yes, you can become easily become overwhelmed. It will be hard to take pleasure in the things you do if you are doing too much. This can lead to feeling anxious and building resentment against the people you are helping. Saying no some of the time can keep this from happening. You don’t need to give a lengthy explanation as to why you are saying no. Keep it short and matter of fact. Start by saying no to small requests. Try not to volunteer your time, energy, and help automatically. If you have two people ask you for something, say yes to only one of the requests. Saying no to some of the things that you really don’t want to do enables you to devote your all to the things that are important to you. When you are able to say no, your yeses become more meaningful as well.

2. Delay Your Response

Although saying no is very important, it can also be quite difficult. If you have trouble saying no to the things you don’t want to do, you can delay your response. You could say something like, let me check my schedule and I will get back to you with an answer tomorrow. Delaying your response gives you time to make a more informed decision. You can then carefully consider if the request is something you really want to do, and if it is worth your time and effort. By delaying your response, you can stop your automatic yes response until you have had time to really think about what you are committing to.

3. Establish Healthy Boundaries

Establishing clear, healthy boundaries can keep you from feeling used by others. When you have healthy boundaries with both yourself and others, you will feel stronger as an individual, and your relationships will strengthen. People-pleasers often put the needs of others before their own, which can cause them to feel a lot of resentment. When healthy boundaries are established, you will be less likely to build resentment. For instance, if your friend always calls you to talk about her problems at dinner time, and your dinner gets cold, you might harbor resentment about this. Instead, you could establish a boundary. You can let her know that you won’t be answering the phone at dinner time and will only be able to talk to her after you are done eating. Once you establish a boundary, you need to make sure you abide by it as well.

4. Practice Empathic Assertion

Since it can be hard for a people-pleaser to say no without trying to justify it, practicing empathic assertion might be helpful. Assertiveness refers to standing up for yourself and what you need in a calm, positive way. Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s feelings from their point of view. When you put the two together, you can respond in a way that acknowledges the other person’s situation or feelings, followed by a statement in which you stand up for yourself and what you need. If a friend asks you to come early to help with a party they are hosting at the last minute, you can respond with empathic assertion. You could say, I understand this party is important to you. However, I made other plans and I can’t come over early. This might be an easier response to give to your close friends and family members since it is a lot softer than simply saying no.

5. Know Yourself

It is easy for people-pleasers to be very aware of the needs and wants of others. However, it can be difficult to know your own wants and needs. In order to know what is important to you and what you want and need, you need to know yourself. Spend time alone with yourself daily and figure out your likes and dislikes. Listen to your inner voice and figure out why you are really doing something for someone else. If it is just so they will like you, or because you don’t want them to be upset, maybe you should say no. When you are clear about what you want, you can start saying yes to yourself and meeting your own needs instead of worrying about everyone else.

6. Practice Self-Care

Once you know yourself and your needs, you can start practicing self-care. Self-care is about giving yourself the things that help you feel refreshed, calm, and energized so you can thrive. This includes eating healthy meals, exercising, engaging in activities that you enjoy, and spending time with friends and family. It can also include meditation, mindfulness, practicing gratitude, getting your hair and nails done, and taking a relaxing bath. Self-care is not selfish. In fact, when you take good care of yourself, you have more to give to others.

To start focusing on your own needs and stop being a people-pleaser, try these tips. If people-pleasing is having a negative impact on your emotional well-being, therapy can help. When you stop trying to please everyone else, you will have the time and energy to care for yourself and do the things that bring you joy.

Being An Empath: The Benefits

Being An Empath: The Benefits

Being an empath can be challenging at times. Your high sensitivity can feel more like a burden, than an asset. However, being an empath is not necessarily a negative thing. There are many positives to being an empath as well. Below are 10 benefits of being an empath.


Empaths readily notice and tune into the emotions of others. You see the pain and suffering of everyone around you. It is probably easy for you to absorb the feelings of others as well. You are highly attuned to your surroundings and everyone in it. Empaths are very aware of subtle changes and can easily become overstimulated by sounds, smells, noises, and crowds. While having so much empathy can be difficult at times, there are also a number of benefits associated with being an empath.

1. Good Intuition

As an empath, you are very intuitive. When you absorb the emotions of others, you rely on your own gut feelings and intuition to make sense of everything. This enables you to notice subtle changes in body language, facial expression, and tone. You easily pick up on discrepancies in what is being communicated. Because of this, you will be able to tell when others are being dishonest. It won’t be easy for anyone to lie to you. If someone tells you nothing is wrong, it will be easy for you to tell if this is accurate or not.

2. Creative

Empaths are very creative. Since you pick up so much from your environment, a creative outlet provides a way to express it. You put a lot of emotion and energy into everything you create. Your creative efforts often move others because of this. Therefore, you can be quite successful in any field that requires creativity. This includes working as a writer, artist, dancer, actor, or chef among others. If you don’t work in a creative field, you will benefit from a hobby where you can use your creativity.

3. Helpful

It is natural for empaths to want to help others. This is not limited to friends and family. You may also go out of your way to help a stranger. Because you are so good at understanding what others are experiencing, you often know what type of help will be most effective.  Your trusting nature and kindness draw others to you, especially those in need. People turn to you for your sound advice and excellent listening skills. Helping others helps you feel good, as you are flooded with positive emotions that reinforce your helpfulness.

4. Compassionate

Empaths are very compassionate and understanding. It is easy for you to show kindness to others and to champion the underdog. You truly love being in nature, young children, and animals. They are naturally drawn to you as well. Seeing others in distress causes a great deal of discomfort. Your compassion knows no bounds. You feel a strong desire to comfort anyone that is suffering, emotionally, physically, or spiritually.

5. Awareness

Because you are so attuned to your environment as an empath, you are very aware of any changes that occur. This can help you avoid uncomfortable, or even dangerous situations. The energy of a place is noticed immediately and deeply felt. When the vibe in the room is positive, it enlivens your mood and makes you feel great. Likewise, you also notice when something is off with someone you are close to. Because you are so aware, you can provide others with a safe space to share, and you usually know just what they need as well.

6. Healing Energy

Empaths have a very healing energy. Others are often soothed simply by being in your presence. Feeling someone else’s pain gives you a stronger insight into what they need most. When you understand another’s pain, you can also understand what might help them. The ability that empaths have to really hear and understand someone can be quite healing on its own.

7. Feel Others Emotions

As an empath, you not only notice the emotions of other people, but you are actually able to feel them. This enables you to understand others on a deeper level. If you are with someone who is excited, you can experience the excitement as well. When you are with someone who is positive and joyful, you can experience these wonderful feelings as strongly as if they were your own. This can cause you to feel amazing.

8. Experience Feelings Deeply

Along with experiencing other people’s feelings strongly as an empath, your own emotions are deeply felt as well. If you are feeling some harder emotions such as sadness, or fear, you are able to process them quicker because you allow yourself to feel them so deeply. When you are feeling more positive emotions, you are able to fully feel them as well. This allows you to relive the enjoyable experience that created the wonderful feelings, so you feel the feelings all over again.

9. Meaningful Relationships

Empaths do not enjoy superficial relationships. Therefore, an empath usually has very deep and meaningful relationships. This is true of friendships as well as romantic relationships. Since an empath is naturally understanding and compassionate, you find it easier to forgive others. This can help improve the quality and duration of your relationships. You are always there with support when anyone close to you is suffering. 

10. Enjoy Alone Time

Alone time is very important to empaths. You need alone time to process your feelings and to differentiate your emotions from the emotions of others. Alone time gives you a chance to decompress and daydream. Since you rely so much on your intuition, and you possess a strong imagination, alone time helps you strengthen both. When you engage in time alone, you are able to recharge your batteries so you are not as overwhelmed by overstimulation.

While being an empath can have it’s challenges, there are also many benefits. If you are struggling with some of the challenges of being an empath, individual counseling can help. By focusing on the benefits of being an empath, you can enhance your overall emotional well-being.

7 Ways To Improve Listening Skills In Your Relationship

7 Ways To Improve Listening Skills In Your Relationship

Effective communication requires good listening skills. In order to have a successful relationship you need to be able to communicate in a way that makes your partner feel heard and known. When you actively listen to your partner you can gain a deeper understanding of what matters to them and who they are. By improving your listening skills, you can strengthen your couple connection and intimacy.


Listening is a skill that brings about a deeper level of understanding and a closer connection. It is an important component of effective communication. Listening is not a passive process. It requires you to pay attention and ask for clarification when necessary. Listening necessitates focusing on what is being said as well as how it is spoken. To effectively listen, you need to be engaged and aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages being sent. When you are really listening to your partner you can begin to develop a deeper understanding of who they are. This can improve your overall communication and deepen your intimacy.

1. Listen To Understand

Listening is about gaining a deep understanding of what is being said from your partner’s perspective. If you are busy thinking about what you are going to say, you are not effectively listening. Formulating a response takes your focus off of the speaker. This can cause you to miss information that could be important to your ability to understand what is being communicated. If you are listening to understand instead of listening to respond, your focus will be on the speaker the entire time they are talking. While you may not agree with your partner, at least you will understand them better.

2. Stay Focused

If you want to be a good listener, you need to give your undivided attention to your partner. To do this you will need to minimize distractions. Turn off the television, put down your phone and look at your partner. If you are distracted, not making eye contact, or doing something else, your partner will think you aren’t listening.  When you are not focusing on your partner, it sends an indirect message that what they have to say is not that important to you. Instead, create a safe environment where your partner can feel heard, understood, and connected simply by focusing on them and what they are saying.

3. Pay Attention To Non-Verbal Cues

Words are important in communication, but they only convey a part of the message. In order to gain a clearer understanding of what is being communicated, you need to pay attention not only to what is being said, but how it is said. To be a more effective listener, you will want to notice non-verbal cues as well. Body language is another way to communicate. Pay attention to facial expressions, tone of voice, and mannerisms in order to be a better listener. If there is a discrepancy between what is said and how it is said, your partner may not be feeling safe.

4. Reflect Back What You Heard

A good way to let your partner know that you are listening is to reflect back what you hear them say. This reflection is most effective when you are able to share in your own words the meaning that they are trying to express. Reflecting back what you hear helps build trust. When you are able to reflect back what your partner says, they will know that you are paying attention and listening for context as well as content. This will help them feel heard and understood.

5. Empathize And Validate

Effective listening enables you to validate your partner’s feelings and empathize with their experience. Validating your partner’s emotions let’s your partner know that you care about their emotions and inner experience. Empathy helps you attune to their feelings through emotional understanding. When you empathize with your partner and validate their experience, you create a safe environment where they can openly share free of judgment and shame. This can increase your intimate connection.

6. Ask Open-Ended Questions

While it is not helpful to interrupt your partner or offer advice that wasn’t asked for, it can be helpful to ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions invite the speaker to expand on what they are communicating. Whereas closed-ended questions often only require a one word answer, open-ended questions create an opportunity for further discussion. Instead of asking Are you upset? You could gain a deeper understanding by asking How are you feeling? This communicates to your partner that you are listening and are interested in hearing more in order to really understand.

7. Summarize Your Understanding

Summarizing what your partner said at the end of the conversation shows them that you were listening to understand them. This is a great way to let your partner know that you are paying attention to both content and context. If you missed anything, your partner can clarify what they actually meant. Your couple connection can deepen when your partner feels you are listening.

The next time you have a discussion with your partner, try to actively listen to them. If you struggle to communicate effectively as a couple, counseling can help. When your partner feels heard and understood, the quality of your relationship will improve.

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