Family accommodation of OCD is a common problem in households where OCD is present. Examples of a family member participating in, or accommodating, OCD symptoms include: a mother who goes to the store every 2 days to purchase shampoo and soap for her teenager who showers 4 times a day, or a husband who drives his wife everywhere to alleviate her fears that she might hit someone with the car. One of the most common types of family accommodation I see is family members attempting to reassure the person suffering (“It will be okay, it’s not as scary as you think, there’s no evidence for that,” etc). While these instincts originate from a place of love and helpfulness, they can, ironically, encourage the roots of OCD to take hold. Family members become confused about why their best efforts are only making things worse. And, entire households become overwhelmed by their rigid way of living.
An important part of my work in treating OCD is to meet with the loved ones of those affected. A client’s success in learning more adaptive ways of living with OCD hinge, in part, on helping their family members understand why their well-intentioned efforts are not working and learn improved ways of responding to OCD fears and rituals.
Parents, especially, come to my office with concerns that they have caused their child’s OCD. Rest assured you will enter a judgment-free zone where our primary goal will be to help the household function more fluidly. Even if your child is seeing a different specialist, I am happy to meet with you to strategize around reducing family accommodation of OCD.