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Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders

Review of "The OCD Workbook"

By Bruce M. Hyman and Cherry Pedrick
New Harbinger, 2005
Review by Beth Cholette, Ph.D. on Mar 4th 2008
The OCD Workbook

The OCD Workbook is a self-help book targeting those with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  It is written by a psychotherapist, Bruce Hyman, who founded the Obsessive-Compulsive Resource Center of South Florida, and a nurse, Cherry Pedrick, who has been diagnosed with OCD herself.  Working together, the two authors set out to create a clear, understandable, up-to-date guide to assist those with OCD through the process of embarking on behavioral change.

Part I of this book focuses on OCD symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.  In the first chapter, the authors review the various subtypes of this disorder and provide many short but helpful case stories illustrating the various manifestations of OCD.  They continue in Chapter 2 by providing more specific symptoms of the various OCD categories--e.g., information on particular types of obsessions, such as Contamination, Hoarding, and Order, as well as on a range of compulsions, including Checking and Cleaning.  The final chapter of this opening section reviews the various options for OCD treatment. 

The authors call Part II the "heart" of the book, as this segment outlines a self-help program for OCD which is based on a type cognitive-behavior therapy called exposure and response prevention (ERP).  As the name would suggest, the key components of this program include exposure to feared stimuli combined with response prevention of compulsive behaviors.  The evidence supporting ERP is reviewed in a straightforward yet convincing manner, and factors which might offer an obstacle to change are discussed.  Subsequent chapters are focused on tailoring the intervention program to the individual; this begins with an assessment exploring specific symptoms and the degree to which each are disruptive.  Based on this self-evaluation, the most severe OCD symptoms are then targeted for first-stage intervention.  To facilitate the exposure component of the program, the authors introduce the concept of SUDS (Subjective Units of Distress Scale), a self-rating system for evaluating anxiety levels.  Various worksheets are used to help readers create exposure lists, prepare for response prevention, and maintain daily progress logs; both real life (in vivo) and imaginal ERP techniques are discussed.  In addition, many examples are provided in order to address the differing presentations of OCD from one individual to another.

As the book continues, the authors expand their cognitive-based ERP approach to include related strategies such as mindfulness.  Part III focuses both on some particularly challenging subtypes of OCD, including scrupulosity, hyper-responsibility, and hoarding as well as on several related disorders such as body dysmorphic disorder, Trichotillomania, and depression.  The final section is designed to provide assistance with obtaining further support, from defining the role of family members to seeking professional help.  The book concludes with helpful a Appendix and Resources list which provide information for family members, a self-rating scale, and additional book recommendations.  Overall, The OCD Workbook provides a well thought out, structured, and practical approach to managing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and its often debilitating symptoms.  Ideally, this work would be performed in conjunction with a therapist, but for readers who are self-motivated, this workbook is definitely likely to provide both concrete guidance and real benefits.

© 2008 Beth Cholette

Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students at SUNY Geneseo. She is also a Top 100 Reviewer at Amazon.com and the official yoga media reviewer for iHanuman.com.

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