Exposure practices can cause the same distress and the same urge to ritualize.
In treatment, “ritual prevention” is practice to break the habit of ritualizing.
Rituals are difficult to stop because they bring relief from anxiety or discomfort. “
Why would you ask someone to forego relief? It is similar to saying that when someone is running to train for a sport, if they stopped running, they would get immediate relief. That is a true statement. They won’t achieve their long term goal, but they would get immediate relief. If they continue to work on running, they will experience discomfort and go beyond the discomfort, teaching their body what it is capable of doing. Stopping running was counterproductive to their final goal.
Similarly, doing the ritual is counterproductive to your final goal.
Imagine your therapist saying, “The performance of these rituals is currently greatly interfering with your ability to function in a variety of settings, and is one of the main reasons that you’ve sought treatment. You’re still having urges to ritualize and we require that you stop ritualizing.”
In other words, the urge to ritualize is not the problem. Giving in to the urge is the problem. Anyone with a compulsion can relate, whether it is drugs (chocolate, coffee, sugar) mental or behavioral compulsions.