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WIN Transforms Communities One Family At A Time

WIN Transforms Communities One Family At A Time

By Katilyn Thomas

Sally & Sam: A WIN Client Success Story

Sally watches her daughter Sam wave at other kids playing in a playground. Sam’s eyes are wide with awe – this is her first time seeing other kids in person. Sally didn’t think she’d notice them. Realizing that her daughter wants to engage with others, Sally tells Tanyx, her WIN therapist, 

“I don’t want her to feel like not a normal kid.” 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) controlled Sally’s life since she was 13. People suffering from OCD hold beliefs/rules and perform rituals to ease their obsessive anxiety. On one occasion when visiting a dentist for teeth cleaning, water splashed on Sally’s face. From that experience, Sally developed obsessive thoughts and rituals around contamination and cleanliness. 

OCD disrupted Sally’s daily functioning. For example, she washed her hands three to five times in a single session, scrubbing until her skin was red. Showering and teeth brushing were also excessive. She eventually avoided these essential self-care routines. While troublesome on an individual level, her OCD extended to Sam. 

Sally’s fear of germs led her to restrict Sam’s playpen to the size of a large cardboard box. Her OCD compelled her to quarantine Sam’s toys in cycles that lasted up to 14 days. There were many unopened boxes of toys that Sam wanted to play with, but the toys weren’t fully quarantined yet. 

Sally’s OCD also strained her marriage. While her husband accommodated her rules and rituals, he occasionally pushed back. Resentment built up. Treatment began with “naming” how OCD affected their relationship: Sally educated her husband about OCD, she explained how he could support her, and she learned to acknowledge his needs. 

Through a “Values Clarification Exercise” in which parents imagine what values they want instilled and what experiences they want their child to have, Sally and her husband recalled childhood experiences filled with exploration and “grittiness.” They wanted Sam to be adventurous. 

As Sam grew, she was bored with her limited selection of toys and would crawl out and over her playpen. Realizing that she couldn’t keep Sam restricted, Sally worked with Tanyx to find a balance to keep Sam safe. But she had to accept that Sam was a baby – she’d eventually get dirty.

In just six months, Sally dramatically reduced her OCD symptoms, she was able to effectively respond to Sam’s wants and needs, and she and her husband actively participated in co-parenting their daughter. Though it was only half a year, the progress Sally and her family made together gave them tools they’ll carry for the rest of their lives.

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