Contamination OCD Therapy in Silicon Valley & Sacramento Valley

Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Contamination OCD in Saratoga/San Jose and Roseville/Sacramento

At the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center in Silicon Valley (Saratoga/San Jose) and Sacramento Valley (Roseville), we offer cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for Contamination OCD. Our Contamination OCD therapy approach at the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center is practical, goal-oriented, compassionate, and scientifically-based while focusing on your individual needs.
Hand washing

What is Contamination OCD?

Contamination fears are one of the most common types of OCD, accounting for approximately a quarter of all OCD cases. The person experiences exaggerated fears of contamination from contact with people or everyday items and repeatedly washes his/her hands or showers, or excessively uses anti-bacterial cleaning products in an effort to eradicate potential contaminants. In addition, the person may avoid contact with everyday objects such as sinks, toilets, doorknobs, money, or virtually anything that an individual could construe as being contaminated. In general, the contamination worry is based on an irrational fear of getting a disease or illness leading to death of him/herself and/or loved ones. Sometimes the OCD sufferer can’t clearly articulate their ultimate fear and may just feel like something bad will happen if they don’t wash or clean.

A person with contamination fears may get to the point where their OCD is so severe that they believe the contamination has spread and virtually everything except a small safe area is contaminated. That safe area can get smaller and smaller over time until they are confined to one room of the house or even the shower.

A person with Contamination OCD often feels a sense of responsibility to protect others from the contaminants. This can cause tension or stress for the loved ones of OCD. The OCD sufferer may insist that friends and loved ones avoid contaminants for fear of them being contaminated or spreading the germs to their safe zones. The OCD sufferer will often insist that family members decontaminate the home (i.e. clean the home according to their extreme OCD rituals) and change shoes and clothes before entering the home. They may also limit who can enter the home due to fear of being contaminated by what other people bring in.

Symptoms of Contamination OCD

A fear of contamination due to dirt, germs, viruses, and a multitude of other substances or items, including chemicals, radioactivity, greasy or sticky substances, bodily excretions (urine, feces), bodily secretions (sweat, saliva, mucus, tears, etc.), and blood can include obsessive fears about:

  • Touching surfaces (in public places or at home) that may be thought to have germs or other “contaminants” on them
  • Touching others or being touched by others or animals
  • Being coughed or sneezed on by others or being in a public place or a vehicle where this could occur (such as in a carpool, bus or airplane)
  • Contaminating others by touching them
  • Wearing clothing that has come in contact with germs or other contaminants

Compulsions that are commonly associated with contamination obsessions are:

  • Washing and cleaning, such as repeated hand washing, showering or bathing, or excessive house cleaning
  • Avoiding public places or public transportation
  • Avoiding being touched by others or touching others
  • Frequently changing clothing or even throwing away clothing that is considered “contaminated”
  • Avoiding certain rooms in the home that are thought to be contaminated
  • Asking others for reassurance that the person with OCD has not been contaminated

Cognitive Behavioral Model of Contamination OCD

Individuals with Contamination OCD may repeatedly wash their hands or shower in an attempt to reduce their obsessional anxiety. Initially, their compulsive and/or avoidant behaviors may actually seem to reduce the anxiety caused by their contamination obsessions. Unfortunately, while these behaviors may reduce the anxiety and obsessions in the short term, it actually reinforces and worsens them in the long-term. This leads to an increase in compulsions, which leads to even more obsessions and more anxiety.

Cognitive Behavior Treatment of Contamination OCD

The goal of CBT for Contamination OCD is to teach you that you can manage the anxiety associated with obsessive thoughts about contamination without performing compulsions or rituals like washing and showering excessively. You will learn a type of CBT called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Treatment will include education about Contamination OCD and how it is maintained, cognitive strategies that will help you respond differently to anxiety and intrusive thoughts, and behavioral strategies to help you delay and/or eliminate compulsive behaviors. ERP/CBT will help you face their contamination fears, in session and in the real world, and practice new ways of responding to anxiety. With practice and experience facing your fears, you find yourself to be less disturbed by irrational thoughts and more able to cope with anxiety and uncertainty.

Common goals of OCD treatment for Contamination OCD include:

  • Identify triggers and cycles of obsessive thinking about contamination and compulsive behaviors such as washing
  • Learn to respond differently to anxiety, obsessions and intrusive thoughts
  • Use exposure therapy to confront contamination fears and objects, either directly and/or in your imagination
  • Learn response prevention techniques to reduce or stop compulsive behaviors or rituals like excessive washing, showering and reassurance seeking
  • Apply mindfulness strategies to observe and accept your discomfort and uncertainty as part of your OCD therapy
  • Reduce time spent on compulsive behaviors and minimize impact of obsessions and compulsions on daily life
How to Get Help for Contamination OCD San Jose/Saratoga and Sacramento/Roseville

The Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center in Silicon Valley (San Jose/Saratoga) and Sacramento Valley (Roseville) specializes in Contamination OCD therapy and counseling with adults, children and teenagers. Call us in Saratoga at (408) 384-8404 or in Roseville at (916) 778-0771 or Click to send an email for more information on how we can help you or your family members overcome Contamination OCD.

Silicon Valley and Sacramento Valley Communities We Serve

Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley offers evidence-based therapy for Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Eating Disorders near the following Silicon Valley/San Jose communities:

San Jose Therapy CounselingSaratoga Therapy CounselingLos Gatos Therapy Counseling Monte Sereno Therapy Counseling • Cupertino Therapy CounselingCampbell Therapy CounselingMountain View Therapy CounselingLos Altos Therapy CounselingSunnyvale Therapy CounselingSanta Clara Therapy Counseling

Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Sacramento Valley offers evidence-based therapy for Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Eating Disorders near the following Sacramento Valley and Sierra communities:

Sacramento Therapy CounselingRoseville Therapy Counseling • Rocklin Therapy Counseling • Granite Bay Therapy Counseling • Lincoln Therapy CounselingFolsom Therapy Counseling • Citrus Heights Therapy Counseling •  El Dorado Hills Therapy Counseling • Loomis Therapy CounselingGrass Valley Therapy Counseling  • Auburn Therapy Counseling

Saratoga: (408) 384-8404
Roseville: (916) 778-0771
Click to send an email