OCD and Goal Setting.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder doesn’t mean ‘a bit of a perfectionist’, that isn’t OCD. What I’m talking about is full blown and debilitating OCD.


Most people have barriers preventing them realising their goals, otherwise they would have already achieved them. However, when you have OCD a lot of those barriers are related to your disorder.


I feel that people with OCD should have therapy before working with a coach. It is important to understand your triggers, intrusive thoughts and compulsions before goal setting. Currently scientists believe that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) are the best forms of therapy for OCD.

When you are making progress in recovery then setting life goals can help you to fill the gap left by OCD. Achieving goals will develop your confidence, motivation and encourage you to discover a new purpose in life.


Tips for goal setting.


· Only set one goal at a time. Trying to do too much at once can become stressful which can aggravate OCD.

· Break down your goal into small, achievable steps to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Remember it’s better to take a small step than no step at all.

· Ask yourself safeguarding questions such as, “What are the warning signs that this may be interfering with my recovery? “If the signs arise what will I do next?” Some coaches may view this as a negative outlook but it is important that you protect yourself from relapse, your OCD recovery must come first. This doesn’t mean you have to give up on your goal, a change in your approach may be all that is required.


If you decide to work with a coach.


· Know that a coach is not going to cure, reassure or make decisions for you.

· You need to be able to trust your coach. If you feel unable to tell your coach the true barriers to your goal then you may spend time working on an issue that doesn’t exist. Some OCD themes can be difficult to talk about due to the nature of the intrusive thoughts, in that case try to find a coach that has an understanding of these types of OCD.

· It is good to work with a coach who has knowledge of your choice of therapy so the coaching approach doesn’t interfere with your progress. For example, in some circumstances clients practising ERP should not be encouraged to ‘think positively’ as this can result in reassurance, which is a compulsion.

· You need to make your own decisions and take responsibility for your actions so you don’t become reliant on your coach.

· It is important that the coach doesn’t reassure you as this may lead to reassurance seeking which is detrimental to the progress of therapy.

· If coaching is having a negative effect on your recovery then stop and speak to your therapist before proceeding. Your OCD recovery must come first and a good coach will understand this. You can always return to coaching at a later date.

· If you have a particular coach in mind but they don’t have experience with OCD, then you can still work with them as long as you understand your OCD, your therapy process and also feel that you can stop at any time.


I’ve had OCD for twenty years and have fully recovered from Pure ‘O’, about 80% recovered from responsibility OCD and 40% recovered from contamination OCD. I still continue with ERP exercises every day to progress my recovery further.


I few years ago I accepted that I will have OCD for the rest of my life, this isn’t being negative, it’s becoming aware that my brain works differently. I am okay with this because I know I can manage my disorder. This insight made me realise that I had to stop delaying my dreams until the day when I would be ‘cured’, I used to think “I’ll do that when I’m recovered”.


When I accepted that I may never fully recover I realised that I had to set my goals now and not wait for that imaginary future date. I am proof that despite having OCD it is possible to achieve your goals, be happy and experience a fulfilling life.



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