I Have OCD But I am Scared of Exposure Therapy! 

Although Exposure to Response Prevention (ERP) is the gold-standard treatment approach for the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, many sufferers of OCD feel much hesitation about seeking care from an ERP therapist. Despite a tremendous body of evidence of ERP’s efficacy in treating OCD, this approach struggles with a bit of a reputation problem that can cause prospective clients to feel understandably nervous about seeking care. Some television and online portrayals of ERP sessions can create a sense that this approach amounts to little more than a tortuous experience of facing extreme manifestations of one’s fears and that participants will be forced into situations they are unprepared to face as a means of overcoming their OCD. 

While some practitioners may employ techniques of this nature, the vast majority of ERP therapists are dedicated to helping their clients regain a sense of confidence and mastery in their lives. At the Epiphany  Center, your therapist will work to develop a trusting and caring rapport with you, help you understand the nature of OCD and how the condition is functionally maintained, and to create a collaborative plan to support you in regaining a sense of empowerment over your life and your condition.  Exposure exercises will be discussed and agreed upon in advance and your therapist will protect your trust by not forcing or springing exposure exercises upon you. Due to the fact that OCD robs people of their sense of autonomy, it is essential that the healing process restore autonomy and help to rebuild a sense of trust in yourself, others, and the world around you. 

Suppose fears about ERP are preventing you from seeking care. In that case, a wonderful and courageous first step can be to schedule an initial consultation and to talk openly about your fears and concerns with your prospective therapist. Building a warm rapport and learning about the exciting journey that ERP can offer you can help you to feel comfortable and hopeful in taking the next step. 

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Rachel Tombaugh
Rachel has devoted her professional life to helping others heal and reclaim their true potential, working as a psychotherapist and Licensed Professional Counselor in Arizona since 2011. Her therapy approach utilizes a unique combination of compassion, warmth, humor, and clinical excellence. Rachel believes that therapy should feel hopeful and connected, yet maintain focus on clinical sophistication and excellence. Equipped with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Arizona State University and earning her Masters of Professional Counseling from Ottawa University, Rachel’s education inspired her to build a career devoted to helping people live with purpose, confidence, and joy. An accomplished writer and editor, Rachel has contributed to several publications devoted to education and advocacy with respect to OCD and anxiety. Rachel has extensive experience working in renowned treatment facilities in both the public and private sectors of healthcare, serving as Primary Therapist at an inpatient treatment facility for eating and anxiety disorders, developing specialty trauma and anxiety programs as a Clinical Director, and training and developing other therapists as Clinical Supervisor. Most recently, Rachel has worked within the private practice setting and has dedicated her efforts exclusively to the treatment of OCD, anxiety disorders, and PTSD. Offering a clinical repertoire that creates change and ensures meaningful results, Rachel has achieved advanced training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), and Inference-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (ICBT) for the treatment of OCD and anxiety, and extensive training in trauma-focused modalities including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Each of these treatment approaches benefits from substantial evidence that it is effective, efficient, and creates positive change that can be trusted. Rachel brings great compassion, warmth, enthusiasm, humor, fun, and innovation to her therapy for each client and is passionate about working with people who have suffered from the traps of anxiety and trauma. Rachel is licensed in both Arizona and New Mexico and offers therapy in person and virtually in Arizona, and via telehealth in New Mexico. When not working with her clients, Rachel loves spending time outdoors with her family, her horse (“Gabriel”), several rescue pets, and a family of screech owls who live at her home in north Phoenix.

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