Glee and OCD

Did you see last night’s Glee? As you know I am a huge Gleek, so I think all episodes are awesome, but this one was particularly good. I especially liked the way they addressed Emma Pillsbury’s Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

OCD is an easy disorder to make fun of. Furious hand washing, repeated checking of light switches, constant organizing of canned goods – the possibilities for showing the disorder in a “humorous” light are endless. Thankfully, Glee has chosen not to take the easy path of humor, but has instead chosen to seriously discuss the disorder.

OCD is a type of anxiety disorder (which was nicely pointed out on the show) that can affect people in many ways. Obsessive, constant thoughts and worries; Compulsions to engage in certain behaviors over and over; A combination of both; OCD is expressed in many ways. However one’s OCD is expressed, a common point is that it is disruptive to life in some way. OCD can make performing one’s job difficult, maintaining relationships a struggle (as in the case of Ms. Pillsbury), or simply enjoying things you used to impossible.

Luckily, there is treatment for OCD. As the psychiatrist on Glee pointed out: a combination of medication therapy and psychotherapy are typically the best bet for effective treatment. It takes work and time to enjoy a relief in symptoms, but it is possible – and in fact likely – that with consistent treatment the disorder will become less severe.

Some resources:

International OCD Foundation

American Psychological Association

School Counselors – Stars On and Off TV

There was so much I could have written after this week’s airing of Glee: the controversy about its appropriateness for young viewers, the sexualization of girls and women, the psychology of Rocky Horror Picture Show, the list goes on and on.  But instead, I’m going to keep it simple.

Ms. Pillsbury from Glee (Fox TV)

I love Emma Pillsbury, the school counselor on Glee. There are lots of reasons I like her: she loves cardigans as I do, she’s a redhead, she’s a quirky character.  But perhaps what I like best is that she is the school counselor – and I LOVE school counselors.

In my work with children and families, one of the first things I recommend is that parents make contact with the counselor at their children’s schools.  It has been my experience that these professionals offer some things that I – as a private psychologist -  never could.  Below are some of the things that make school counselors stars – and an awesome resource for families:

  • They see your child in a different light. School counselors get the opportunity to be flies on the wall at school and observe children in their natural state.  They are able to see who really started the fight, if your child is really the bully you think she might be, and what is really behind all those tardies in math.
  • Their services are included. At least in my area, school counselors’ services are free to students.  This can be a super opportunity for families who are pinching pennies and can’t afford outside services.
  • The hours are great. Since counselors’ offices are right there in the school, their schedules match beautifully with the kids’.  Often kids can zip into the counselor’s office for a quick chat between classes, during lunch, or at recess.  No need to miss parts of the school day, cut into family time, or rush through homework in order to make an appointment with an outside practitioner.
  • The kids are in charge. In many of the schools with which I work, the kids themselves are in charge (to a large degree) of deciding when they see their school counselor.  I love the degree of responsibility and independence this affords them.  It helps teach kids at an early age to find appropriate help and resources when needed.

While your school counselor might not sing and dance like Ms. Pillsbury, she/he is still worth checking out!

Photo: Glee on Fox TV