The uniqueness of AFOP: differences with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
It’s not our intention to criticize the effort of other therapists who are working with passion on a daily basis, but we want to say this firmly: we don’t share the vision that the cognitive-behavioral paradigm has on obsessive disorders at all. This is actually the reason that brought Damián Ruiz, the director of IPITIA, to develop the AFOP® method.
Cognitive-Behavioral therapy has the goal of teaching their patients to manage their symptoms by providing them with cognitive and behavioral techniques that allow the patient to do something when an obsessive thought appears.
However, at IPITIA we think that when therapists limit themselves to simply manage thoughts and behavior, they are not doing anything else than reproducing the same pattern of control and rigidness that characterizes OCD. They are trying to fix the broken part…by using the same broken part.
A person who suffers from OCD usually spends hours ruminating and debating about matters in the prison of his mind, or he might establish strict behavioral rituals that supposedly reduce the anxiety which is related to an obsessive disorder. So… why should we structure a mind that is already saturated even more? How can we ask a patient to think differently, when their capacity to think with clarity is exactly the area that is most affected by his anxiety?
Without previously reducing this anxiety, the cognitive work will hardly be of any use, and the response prevention therapy (not carrying out the specific ritual) won’t translate itself into an improvement of mood, but in a tedious fight against the own mind.
OCD manifests itself on a cognitive level but is not a cognitive problem. If it’s only treated on a cognitive level, the anxiety will simply shift its objective, and a new obsession will appear, as many patients explain. For this reason, the AFOP method doesn’t focus on treating the symptoms but on drastically reducing the anxiety that causes them.
We don’t teach you to manage the symptoms but we work on making them disappear. Finally, we don’t expose our patients to their direct fears, but we train and help them to reach real-life goals, which implicitly involves having faced those fears.