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The treatment of mental contamination: a case series

Coughtrey, A. E., Shafran, R., Lee, M. and Rachman, S. (2013) The treatment of mental contamination: a case series. Cognitive and Behavioural Practice, 20 (2). pp. 221-231. ISSN 1077-7229

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpra.2012.07.002


The recommended treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) incorporating exposure and response prevention (ERP), which is effective for approximately 50% of patients. However, there has been little advance in treatment outcomes since the introduction of ERP in 1979. It has been suggested that some progress can be made in treating contamination obsessions and washing compulsions by addressing feelings of dirtiness and contamination that arise without physical contact with a tangible contaminant. To date, the treatment of these “mental contamination” fears in OCD has not been systematically explored. This paper reports on a case series of 12 participants with OCD who received 10 to 20 sessions of a CBT-based treatment for mental contamination. At the end of treatment, 7 participants no longer met the diagnostic criteria for OCD and mental contamination and these gains were maintained at 6-month follow-up. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:31316


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