OCD Anxiety Worksheet

What is the theory behind this OCD Anxiety Worksheet?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterised by recurrent intrusive obsessive thoughts that are  followed by ritualistic compulsive behaviours. These obsessions and compulsions cause significant distress and disruption in daily functioning. One way to deal with the resulting anxiety is to refocus one’s attention from the meanings attached to the obsessive thoughts and delay the compulsive response as long as possible. 

How will the worksheet help?

The worksheet will help clients practise the ‘15 minute rule’, which is a self help strategy that helps refocus one’s attention and resist the OCD symptoms. It gradually trains the individual to be mindful of their obsessive thoughts and make an active effort to delay the resulting compulsive rituals by diverting their attention. 

How to use the worksheet?

This worksheet can be provided to clients whose OCD diagnosis can be managed with self-help techniques. The ‘15 minute rule’ requires the client to delay their compulsions for at least 15 minutes by diverting their attention to any other activity as soon as the obsessive thought occurs. Instruct them to list down activities that can help them refocus. They should also track and evaluate their progress. 

OCD Anxiety Worksheet

This worksheet is based on ‘Step 3 – Refocus’ from Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz’s 4-step OCD self help strategy.

Step 1: RelabelMindful and focused effort to acknowledge your obsessions and compulsions are a cause of the disorder. Call them obsessions not thoughts. Call them compulsive urges and not just your action or behaviour. Step 2: ReattributeMindful and focused effort to acknowledge that the intensity and recurrence of obsessions and compulsions are due to actual chemical imbalances or abnormal biochemistry in the brain. OCD is a medical conditionStep 3: RefocusMindful and focused effort to divert your attention beginning with just a few minutes and gradually increasing the time between the obsessive thought and the compulsive response.  Relabel → Reattribute → RefocusStep 4: RevalueAfter repeated practice of the first 3 steps you will eventually learn to devalue the meaning behind the obsessions and the urge to neutralise them with your compulsions. 
Step 3: Refocus
What activities can serve as a healthy distraction when the OCD intensifies my obsessive thoughts?

The 15-minute ruleResist the urge to follow obsession with a compulsion for at least 15 minutes. Do the activities listed above. Analyse what helped and what didn’t. Aim to increase this time.
Time delay between obsession and compulsionActivity done to distract myselfDid it help?


Schwartz, J.M. & Beyette, B. (1997) Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour. Harper Perennial.

You can download this worksheet here.

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