Case Studies: OCD and PTSD

Learning Objectives

  • Identify OCD and PTSD in case studies

Case Study: Mauricio

As a teenager, Mauricio had always tried to live up to every standard (academic, religious, familial) A neat and organized desk top.that was placed upon him. Before every exam, he lined up his pencils, erasers, and notebooks exactly the same way, each two fingers apart. He felt a strong urge to complete this task because if he didn’t, he would fail his exam. His classmates thought it was funny and one day, a boy sitting next to him purposely knocked his pencils to the floor. When this occurred, Mauricio was certain he would fail and became suddenly, very ill, excusing himself to the bathroom where he vomited his lunch. As the years progressed, his habits increased. He was too afraid of being a failure at work and the only thing that gave him confidence was arranging his desk the same every day, tying the same knot in his tie, and readjusting his seat ten times exactly. His dating life was a mess; no woman could deal with his oddities at home—rearranging cutlery, turning light switches on and off . . . and this left him lonely and sad. When he became too depressed to leave his home, a friend advised him to see a counselor and offered to drive him to his appointments.

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Case Study: Cho

A lightning strike lights up the dark sky.Cho was thirteen when her home caught fire during a terrible lightning storm. A firefighter managed to help her escape through the window but her mother was trapped in a room on the other side of the house. Almost two years later, Cho still has night terrors. She hears her mother’s screams in her sleep and wakes up in a cold sweat. She barely sleeps for more than a couple hours at a time and constantly walks around the house, checking doors and windows and ensuring the stove is off. Whenever there’s a lightning storm, she hides in her room until it’s over. This tendency caused difficulty at school one day when a storm grew overhead; she ran to the bathroom in a state of panic. Her father has considered homeschooling her for her senior year because she is constantly exhausted, her grades are plummeting, and she refuses to socialize, often sitting in the farthest corner of the classroom and avoiding crowds.

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Possible treatment considerations for Cho may include CBT or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). This could also be coupled with pharmaceutical treatment, such as anti-anxiety medication or anti-depressants to help alleviate symptoms. Cho will need a trauma therapist who is experienced in working with adolescents. Other treatment that may be helpful is starting family therapy as well to ensure everyone is learning to cope with the trauma and work together through the painful experience.

Link to Learning

To read more about the ongoing issues of PTSD in violent-prone communities, read this article about a mother and her seven-year-old with PTSD.

Think It Over

If you were a licensed counselor working in a community that experienced a high rate of violent crimes, how might you treat the patients that sought therapeutic help? What might be some of the challenges in assisting them?