Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Lillian Reuman
  • Jonathan S. AbramowitzEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_451

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unwanted intrusive thoughts that provoke anxiety or distress (i.e., obsessions) and ritualistic behaviors (i.e., compulsions) and extreme avoidance behavior performed to reduce distress. Obsessions and compulsions are functionally related and typically concern themes of contamination, blasphemy, sex, harm, or order and symmetry. Avoidance behavior, which serves the purpose of reducing obsessional anxiety, might also be present. Although rituals and avoidance strategies reduce obsessional anxiety in the short term, they maintain the problem in the long run by preventing the disconfirmation of feared consequences. Left untreated, OCD can be a disabling condition that exacts substantial morbidity. Individuals report strained relationships with family and friends, role impairment (i.e., trouble at work and school due to days missed, lost productivity), and poorer physical health (Huppert et al. 2009).

Theoretical Context for Concept


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Farrah Hughes
    • 1
  1. 1.Employee Assistance ProgramMcLeod HealthFlorenceUSA