Hello Brave One!

Therapists sometimes like to use analogies to help explain the therapy process. One common analogy is that therapy is like physical fitness. Here’s why:

You don’t go to the gym expecting to run 20 miles, bench 200 pounds, and immediately see your body change the first time. You start small and build your way up. Your body changes incrementally over time. At first, it might be difficult or frustrating. It might feel clunky and awkward. You might rather just skip the gym because that’s easier. We aren’t used to using certain muscles so it doesn’t come naturally. It might feel uncomfortable and take a lot of effort to motivate yourself to keep doing the work. You likely will not know how to do every exercise perfectly and will learn, adjust, grow, and improve over time. This is the same with therapy, except we are building new neural connections in the brain rather than strengthening a muscle.

With more practice, these new movements (or neural connections) start to come more naturally. It gradually doesn’t take as much effort. We incrementally increase the intensity of our exercise routine (or move higher up on your exposure hierarchy to more difficult exposures). Even when we master more intense workouts, we still have to keep practicing to maintain our gains. Just like we lose muscle strength when we stop exercising, we lose mental strength (neural connections) when we stop actively using ERP therapy skills in our life.

This process is not perfect and doesn’t have to be. Different exercises may be required for different individuals’ needs. The important thing is to keep doing it, keep practicing, keep learning, and keep showing up.

Stay Brave! -The OCD MN Team