Taboo Thoughts: CBT for Overcoming Intrusive Unwanted Thoughts

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Presenting Author(s): Dr. Janet Caryk

Date and time: 23 Mar 2019 from 14:10 to 14:50

Location: Hawthorn B  Floor Map


  1. Provide an overview of taboo content that characterizes the obsessions of patients with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD);
  2. Introduce the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Model of intrusive unwanted thoughts; and
  3. Teach clinicians how to help patients with OCD manage their intrusive unwanted thoughts.

Literature References

  1. Winston, S. M., and Seif, M. N. 2017. Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts . New Harbinger Publications.
  2. Purdon, C. and Clark, D. A. 2005. Overcoming Obsessive Thoughts. New Harbinger Publications.
  3. Radomsky, A.S., G. M. Alcolado, J. S. Abramowitz, P. Alonso, A. Belloch, M. Bouvard, D.A. Clark, etal. 2014. “Part 1 – You can run but
    you can’t hide: Intrusive thoughts on six continents.” Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive &Related Disorders. 3 (3): 269-279.
  4. Clark, D. A. 2018. The anxious thoughts workbook: Skills to overcome the unwanted intrusive thoughts that drive anxiety, obsessions, and depression. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.


Intrusive unwanted thoughts are common in the general population. However, patients with OCD are often reluctant to talk about their
taboo and repugnant thoughts with clinicians due to guilt and shame. The CBT model focuses on the misinterpretation that the patient
makes regarding the meaning of the intrusion, and their subsequent efforts to control their thoughts. These are the targets of treatment.
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is regarded as a highly efficacious and effective treatment for OCD. The purpose of this talk
is to provide mental health professionals with information about the treatment of OCD when the primary manifestations are intrusive
thoughts with taboo content such as sexual and harming themes.

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