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One More Step Before You Decide to Get Treatment

young manSo, Laura responded to my blog on Six Reasons for Not Treating Your Anxiety or OCD with one of her own blogs that may have helped you rethink your “treatment interfering beliefs” in a more productive way. If so, you’re ready to move ahead, right? Well, not quite.

I think it’s also wise to take one more important step. Specifically, I’d like you first to consider accepting where you’re at, problems and all. That’s right; evaluate yourself as acceptable and OK as you are.

Realize that you didn’t ask to have problems with anxiety and OCD. Rather, you have these problems for lots of good reasons. You may have had genes that tilted you in this direction. Or perhaps you experienced one or more traumas. Maybe your parents were overly critical and overbearing. On the other hand, maybe they couldn’t provide the structure you needed as a child. Perhaps you grew up in an unsafe neighborhood. People acquire anxiety and OCD for these reasons and many more. They pretty much never become anxious because they “wanted” to have these problems.

Yet, many clients judge and evaluate themselves very harshly just because they have some problems that they didn’t ask for in the first place. They see themselves as weak, incompetent, and horribly flawed. Thus, they tell themselves that they absolutely MUST overcome their problems. In addition, they should do so quickly and completely.

Can you see a problem in that line of thinking? I hope so. If your thoughts go in that twisted direction, you’ll merely compound your problems by adding huge amounts of stress and pressure to your treatment efforts. That pressure is likely to cause you to stall out before you get very far.

I frequently tell my patients to think of treatment as an endurance race. When you realize you’re not yet near the finish line, it’s important to merely keep putting one foot in front of the other. But if you judge that your progress is unacceptable and that you haven’t gotten as far as you think you should, you might as well take out a hammer and start beating yourself over the head! That’s not exactly going to get you there faster. Rather, you’re likely to collapse in an exhausted heap.

Therefore, I recommend that you stop judging yourself. Accept that you have anxiety or OCD. You may not “like it,” but try to accept yourself and your problems. You don’t even “have” to change them. Yes, you’ll probably feel better if you do engage in treatment, but don’t make it into an absolute “must.”

Young man photo available from Shutterstock.

One More Step Before You Decide to Get Treatment

Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D.

Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and a Founding Fellow in the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. He is also a member of the faculty at Fielding Graduate University. He specializes in the treatment of adolescents and adults with obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, anger, depression, and personality disorders. Dr. Elliott is coauthor of: Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies (2nd Ed), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder For Dummies, Seasonal Affective Disorder For Dummies, Anxiety and Depression Workbook For Dummies, Depression For Dummies, Why Can't I Get What I Want?, Why Can’t I Be the Parent I Want to Be?, and Hollow Kids: Recapturing the Soul of a Generation Lost to the Self-Esteem Myth. His website is:

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APA Reference
Elliott, C. (2012). One More Step Before You Decide to Get Treatment. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Jan 2012
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