Toronto:  Victims of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) fret endlessly over whether they have locked the door or turned off the gas stove. Now, a new way to treat it is being tested. Adam Radomsky, professor of psychology at the Concordia University, is now testing a new way to treat OCD, a debilitating behaviour that could just substantially improve the quality of life for many.

"For years, the best way to treat compulsive checking in OCD sufferers has been through a difficult therapeutic process known as exposure and response prevention, or ERP," explains Radomsky, the journal Cognitive and Behavioural Practice reports. "By facing their worst fears repeatedly until their anxiety declines, patients learn to diffuse their hypervigilant checking responses - in theory."

But practically speaking this type of treatment often results in patients quickly discontinuing the therapy, according to a Concordia statement. Radomsky's treatment builds on previous research which found that OCD afflicted people compulsively checked certain aspects of their surroundings out of an inflated sense of perceived responsibility.

By placing emphasis on how people think rather than on what they do, Radomsky's new approach targets people's faulty beliefs about how responsible they think they are, about their own memories, and about the dangers that they perceive.

The progress of the proposed treatment takes the patient from exercises in normalizing inflated responsibility, through restoring confidence in memory, all the way to reducing self-doubt and guilt, hopefully leaving patients with new insights into how they perceive themselves, and the world around them.

Developed in the lab, Radomsky's research is set to show real promise in the field. "For me and my team," says Radomsky, "this work will capitalize on all of our previous experimental research and lead us to testing a new intervention based on our previous findings."